Eastern Asian LNG gross imports fell by 3.9% in 2015
In 2015, LNG imports in Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan reached a total of 152.8 Mt, which represents a 3.9% decrease compared to 2014 (159 Mt). The drop was steady throughout the year, even though it slowed down in the fourth quarter, when imports decreased by 3.1% year-on-year against a rate of over 4% in the previous quarters.
In Japan, which accounts for about a third of the world LNG consumption, imports dropped by 3.9%, from 88.5 Mt in 2014 to 85 Mt in 2015. The bulk of the decline was caused by the drop of LNG use in the power sector: the ten privately-owned electric power companies of Japan, which bought 55.7 Mt of LNG in 2015, reduced their consumption of LNG by 4.8% (-2.7 Mt). On the one hand, this decline is explained by an overall drop in power generation in 2015 (-5.1% to 685 TWh) caused by above than average temperature in the spring and lower than average temperature in June and September, which reduced demand for heating and cooling. On the other hand, the 13.7 % increase of hydro, new energy and nuclear power impacted the use of thermal plants. The electricity generated by thermal plants declined by 6.8% so that besides LNG, consumption of coal, heavy fuel oil and crude oil by power companies decreased by 1.6%, 19.3% and 23.4% respectively. In addition, city gas sales of the top-3 natural gas utilities dropped by 0.9% mostly because of lower consumption in the residential and business sectors.