LNG trade hits record high in 2014
LNG trade hit a record high in 2014, with 243.6M tonnes traded last year, up 4.5M tonnes from 2013.
IHS Waterborne Energy said volumes traded in 2014 exceeded the previous record of 241.6M tonnes in 2011, when the Great East Japan earthquake resulted in a surge in Japan’s LNG demand due to the post-quake shutdown of nuclear reactors.
Despite South Korea importing less LNG in 2014, Asia still leads overall LNG demand. South Korea’s imports fell 2.6M tonnes from 2013 to just over 238M tonnes in 2014.
Korea Gas Corporation, South Korea’s sole LNG buyer, pushed back on purchases last year due to high stocks. In addition, a cooler winter in South Korea also dampened LNG demand.
Senior research analyst Kelli Maleckar Krasity noted that Japan, China and India were the biggest LNG importers in Asia.
She said, “For the second year in a row, the five largest importers in the world were all located in Asia, with the region as a whole accounting for 75% of total LNG imports. China grew by 1.4M tonnes – the third largest gain globally – but this was just 38% of its incremental growth in 2013 as economic growth slowed. After a world-leading 3.7M tonnes of growth in 2013, a mild 2013/14 winter left South Korea with overfilled storages, and the country retreated from the LNG spot market starting in April. South Korea’s summer buying hiatus resulted in a 2.6M tonnes drop, by far the largest globally.”
Although Europe still registered the only significant regional decline, strong imports in Turkey and the United Kingdom narrowed the drop to just 1.6M tonnes from 2013, while the last two years registered double-digit declines in LNG imports.
In fact, the United Kingdom had the fourth-largest year-on-year growth globally – 1.4M tonnes – as a result of redirected Qatari deliveries.
In all regions save Europe and North America, the number of suppliers increased in 2014. The Middle East showed particularly strong supply diversification from last year, owing to new contracts signed with Shell and BP in Kuwait. The country’s reliance on Qatar fell from 85% of its total imports in 2013 to just 33% in 2014 as it sourced cargoes from five additional suppliers.