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.

LNG Pricing: Is US LNG competitive in North East Asia?

Out of the 8.3 Mt of US LNG exports recorded in the first 8 months of 2017, 2.37 Mt was exported to the North East Asian countries (29%). This represents a remarkable development given the fact that the US did not send any cargo to North East Asia in 2016.

On average, US LNG has turned out to be the most expensive LNG supply source in the region, priced 18% above the average regional LNG import cost. However, a country by country analysis shows that the US LNG was indeed priced close to the average price of LNG imports for China and even lower for South Korea and Taiwan. Japan is the only country in the region which pays a price for US LNG well above both its average cost of imports ($12.26 vs $8.04, a 52% extra-cost) and regional spot price indexes.

CEDIGAZ 2035 LNG Outlook – New projects needed after 2023


  • Total effective capacity[1] is expected to increase significantly from 244 mmtpa in 2015 to 387 mmtpa in 2021 (+60%). Subsequently, effective capacity from facilities currently operational or under-construction should progressively decrease to reach 354 mmtpa by 2035 due to the aging of some assets and gas shortages in some producing countries. Demand will struggle to keep up with supply ramp-up at the beginning of the projection period and an over-supply situation should prevail. Rebalancing of the market is not expected before 2023, or even 2024 if probable developments (Fortuna FLNG) and potential upside from currently idle capacity (Egypt, Yemen) are taken into account. After that, the continuous growth of the LNG market will leave a large margin for the implementation of new projects.                                    (1): Equatorial Guine                     (2): Egypt, Yemen
  • Three main regions stand out: Asia-Oceania, the Middle East and North America. Effective liquefaction capacity in Asia-Oceania is expected to see a significant increase reaching a plateau between 2019 and 2023 and then decreasing until 2035. Capacity in the Middle East remains broadly stable throughout the period with just over 90 mmtpa of effective liquefaction capacity, although Qatar’s recent announcement calling for a 30% production growth to 2024 could change the game. In North America the stepping up of United States’ LNG will constitute a major upheaval, with a total liquefaction capacity expected to reach 66 mmtpa by 2021 (Canada included).
  • LNG capacity in Africa and the CIS should remain stable after a slight increase at the beginning of the projection period. Stability is also expected in Europe, while effective capacity will gradually decrease in South & Central America due to growing constraints on feedstock as Trinidad and Tobago’s gas reserves dwindle.