Japanese LNG imports fall on Asia cargo decline offset by Middle East

Tuesday, 27 April 2021
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Japan’s liquefied natural gas imports declined last month after near record shipments in the previous month and with a fall in spot and Asian cargo numbers being offset by rises in Middle East, US and Russian shipments.

The March 2021 shipments amounted to 7.12 million tonnes, or around 104 cargoes, which was a decline of 1.1 percent on March 2020 when they had amounted to 7.20MT, according to the preliminary trade figures from Japan's Ministry of Finance.

Deliveries to Japan in February 2021 had surged to 8.06MT, or 118 cargoes, a total of 21.5 percent higher than in February 2020 when they had amounted to 6.64MT.

Annual shipments of LNG to the Japanese import network of 37 facilities came to 74.46MT in 2020, down 3.7 percent compared with the 77.32MT received in 2019.

LNG imports by the world’s largest buyer of the fuel have continued to drop in recent years. The 2019 total of 77.32MT was 6.7 percent lower than the 82.85MT logged in 2018.

Japan’s shipments in March 2021 cost 292.20 billion yen ($2.68Bln), a drop of 22.8 percent on the 384.83Bln ($3.53Bln) spent in March 2020 when volumes were also less.

Japan was expected to have higher imports in the early months of 2021 as it re-built its stocks used in the colder weather of winter.

LNG competes mainly with thermal coal for power generation in Japan, while the nation’s nuclear power generation was still at a very low level.

Japan’s thermal coal imports in March 2021 came to 8.53MT, a fall of 12.8 percent on the shipments received in March 2020.

Nuclear power usage in Japan is still much reduced to less than a handful on line compared with the 50 units operating in 2011.

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