Global LNG trade jumps 4.5% in 2021

12 July 2022

The global LNG market expanded to 49.9 Bcf/d in 2021, up 2.2 Bcf/d or 4.5%, from the prior year, according to a recent study from a global LNG trade organization.

The International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL) issued an annual report which showed the growth in exports and imports worldwide.

New LNG export capacity, primarily from the U.S. and the rising global demand for natural gas were the two main causes for the growth in global LNG trade last year, the organization said.

Global LNG export capacity has increased worldwide by 29%, or 14.0 Bcf/d, from 2017 through 2021. The growth was led primarily by capacity additions of 9.6 Bcf/d in the United States, 2.2 Bcf/d in Australia, and 1.7 Bcf/d in Russia.

Last year, the United States saw the largest increase in LNG exports, a 2.9 Bcf/d increase compared with the previous year. Australia’s capacity increased that year by 0.1 Bcf/d, remaining the world’s largest LNG exporter for the second consecutive year.

LNG exports from Egypt increased by 0.7 Bcf/d, while exports from Algeria jumped by 0.2 Bcf/d, the second- and third-largest year-on-year volumetric increases among all LNG-exporting countries, the GLLGNL reported.

Among LNG-importing regions in 2021, Asia and Latin America increased annual imports: Asia’s imports rose by 2.4 Bcf/d while Latin America saw an increase of 0.6 Bcf/d.

In four of the past five years, China increased its imports of LNG more than any other country. In 2021, China’s LNG imports grew by 1.4 Bcf/d, accounting for 57% of the increase in Asia’s LNG imports. Japan’s LNG imports, essentially flat from 2020 to 2021, declined by 11% (1.2 Bcf/d) between 2017 and 2021 as a result of nuclear units coming back online. India reduced LNG imports by 0.3 Bcf/d in 2021 primarily because of record-high LNG spot prices in Asia.

Europe saw its LNG imports fall by 8% (0.9 Bcf/d) in 2021 because larger volumes of flexible LNG supplies, primarily from the United States, were shipped to Asia and Brazil. Lower LNG imports in Europe contributed to record-low natural gas storage inventories during 2021, even as benchmark prices reached record highs. The United Kingdom and Italy reduced LNG imports more than other European countries between 2020 and 2021, by 0.3 Bcf/d each.

In Latin America, Brazil had the most growth in LNG imports between 2020 and 2021. Brazil’s LNG imports increased by 0.6 Bcf/d, averaging 0.9 Bcf/d during 2021, as it experienced a devastating drought that has reduced hydroelectric power generation and led to increased natural gas-fired electricity generation.

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