Cedigaz LNG Brief – July 2019 edition

The CEDIGAZ LNG brief is based on CEDIGAZ’ monthly LNG trade database. It is published on the blog 3 months after its disclosure to CEDIGAZ members. 

LNG in H1 2019

Global Imports (net of re-exports) grew by 12% in H1 2019 to reach 169 Mt (+18.5 Mt Y-o-Y) driven by the surge of European imports. Asian demand was insufficient to absorb the sharp supply rise. Overall demand in Asia remained almost flat as strong growth in China (+4.7 Mt) and Bangladesh (+1.6 Mt) was offset by declines in Japan (3.3 Mt) and South Korea (3 Mt).
Imports growth in China declined from nearly 50% in 2018 (H1) to 20% on account of increased domestic gas production (+10%), higher pipeline imports and weaker demand growth due to a mild winter (vs H1 2018) and policy easing on enforcement of coal-to-gas conversions.
In Japan, nuclear output has increased and, inventories were high after a mild winter. Nuclear output in Korea grew by 36%, affecting gas demand as gas-fired electricity generation dropped by 11%.
In the absence of a strong North Asian demand growth, Europe acted as the market of last resort. Net imports in the region almost doubled to 41 Mt (+19 Mt Y-O-Y). Growth was particularly strong in the UK (+4.2 Mt) and France (+4.4 Mt). In Latin America, imports were up by +17% (+0.8 Mt), conversely they declined in North America and MENA.
Global supply growth was driven by Australia, the US and Russia where exports increased by almost 5.6 Mt, 5.1 Mt and 3.7 Mt respectively, boosted by the ramp up of Train 1&2 of Ichthys LNG and Train 2 of Wheatstone in Australia, Train 1 of Cove Point and Corpus Christi in the US and Train 2&3 of Yamal in Russia. Strong global supply growth and weak NEA LNG demand contributed to the rapid decline in spot prices. NEA spot prices, almost halved since January, stimulating European imports. Average monthly spot prices for June were $3.5 mmbtu (TTF) in Europe and $4.4/mmbtu in North East Asia, putting pressure on the US LNG off takers (the estimated short run marginal cost of US LNG in June was around $3.3/mmbtu to Europe and $4.5/mmbtu to Asia).
The spreads between European gas hubs and the Asian spot market remained low this year, reducing Europe’s re-exports by 21% (0.3 Mt Y-o-Y) to 1.2 Mt. The lower prices have not yet triggered additional demand in Asia and with further new supply scheduled to come online in the months ahead, the pressure on global gas prices should contin-ue to mount.

European LNG Imports slump in H1 2018

European net LNG imports in H1 2018 did not sustain the growth momentum which was seen in 2017 (nearly 5% Y-o-Y growth in H1 2017) as total LNG net imports fell by 5% (-1.21 MT YoY) to reach 21.2 MT. This trend was mainly the result of higher re-exports, which went up 1.1 MT YoY, and strong declines in net LNG imports in Spain, the UK and France.

In Southern Europe, net LNG imports were down 8.7% to 12.1 MT, as imports in France, Spain and Italy declined. LNG imports in Spain declined by 12 % (-0.65 MT), counterbalanced by pipeline imports from Algeria which grew 18% compared to last year. Spanish LNG imports from Peru were down by 0.88 MT and this was partially offset by increased purchases from Trinidad and Tobago (+0.67 MT). In France, re-exported volumes surged by 0.72MT YoY, resulting in a 10% decline (-0.4 MT) in net LNG imports. The re-exported cargoes from France landed mainly in Asia (China, South Korea, India) and the Middle East (Kuwait). In Italy, LNG imports were down by 10% (-0.28 MT) as the power sector gas demand weakened in H1 2018, while hydroelectric power generation increased. Portugal was the only Southern European country where LNG imports were up, albeit marginally (+ 0.15 MT).

Figure 1: European LNG Importers in H1’18 (net of re-exports)

Global LNG trade continues strong momentum in Q1 2018

The global LNG trade in Q1 2018 sustained the growth momentum which was seen in 2017 as total LNG net imports grew by 9.6% (+6.89 MT YoY) to reach 78.7 MT. This strong growth was bolstered mainly by China (+4.83 MT YoY) and South Korea (+1.60 MT YoY) in North East Asia as well as India (+ 1.36 MT YoY) in South Asia. Bangladesh will also add to the regional demand marginally in 2018 as it started importing LNG in April this year. The Q1 2018 growth in China (+62% YoY) which resulted from coal to gas switching is adequate to maintain a 13% annual growth in 2018 even if the April-Dec’18 demand in China holds flat compared to the year earlier. South Korea surpassed China marginally in Q1 2018 in terms of net LNG imports. Domestic gas demand from the power sector in South Korea surged as 12 nuclear power units were offline. In India, LNG imports grew as a result of higher gas demand from the fertilizer sector and city gas distribution.