Japanese LNG shipments continue decline in 2020 even as lower prices cut costs of imports

Thursday, 19 March 2020
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Japanese liquefied natural gas imports dropped last month and the nation’s cargo costs fell along with lower LNG prices while thermal coal deliveries were preferred for power generation.

Japan imported 6.64 million tonnes of LNG in February 2020, down 9.6 percent from the 7.35MT received in February  2019.

The Japanese had imported 7.51MT in January 2020, down 0.5 percent from the 7.54MT received in January 2019.

The shipments cost the nation 351.42 billion yen ($3.26Bln), 24 percent lower in yen terms than the import bill for February 2019 when it was $462.22Bln yen ($4.13Bln), according to the preliminary figures from the Japanese Finance Ministry.

Thermal coal imports, a major replacement for LNG in the power sector, came to 9.14MT in February 2020, down just 1.6 percent on the 2019 figure and in line with the January 2020 shipments.

The country’s imports of LNG fell for the whole of last year to 77.32MT,  which was 6.7 percent lower than the 82.85MT of shipments that arrived in 2018.

The costs of cargoes sent to Japan amounted to 4,354 billion yen ($39.72Bln) in 2019, down 8.1 percent from the previous year.

Annual thermal coal shipments came to 111.05MT in 2019, down just 2.2 percent on the 2018 total.

Asian LNG cargo deliveries from nations such as Malaysia and Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Brunei amounted to 1.66MT in February 2020, down 18.7 percent on the same month a year ago.

Middle East deliveries from countries like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman came to 1.31MT, a drop of 15.1 percent.

Shipments from Russia, mostly from the Sakhalin Island plant in the Far East, amounted 597,000 tonnes, a decline of 1.1 percent on the same month last year.

US cargo deliveries to Japan continue to rise as more capacity comes on stream and came to 473,000 tonnes versus 403,000 tonnes in January 2020, and 41.2 percent higher than the 335,000 tonnes received in February 2019.

Japan will be importing a bigger proportion of low-priced US cargoes in the years ahead from booked volumes and the spot market with six US export plants now in operation.

Last year the US shipped 3.69MT to Japan, a rise of 48.2 percent on 2018.

The balance of Japan’s January imports came from Australia, African nations and the spot market and amounted to 2.60MT versus 2.83MT in February 2019 and 3.22MT in January 2020.

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