China & Indian imports of LNG increased in March as a result of lower spot prices for LNG, which are enticing price-conscious consumers back to Asia.
In the week ending April 6, the spot price of Liquefied natural gas for export to north Asia remained stable from the previous week at 12.50 dollar per mmBtu, which was the weakest level since June 2021.
The cost has fallen by 67 percent from its mid-Dec peak of 38 dollar per million British thermal units (mmBtu) for the northern winter and by 82.3 percent from its all-time high of 70.50 dollar set in Aug of previous year, when demand for the super-chilled fuel in Europe spiked in response to the energy shortage brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to commodity experts Kpler, China imported 5.56 million tonnes of Liquefied natural gas in March, rising from 4.95 million in Feb and significantly more than the 4.76 million imported in the same month previous year.
This year, China lost its position as the largest Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter to Japan, partly as a result of its utilities’ withdrawal from the spot market as prices rose.
Another Liquefied natural gas (LNG) importer hurt by the record-breaking spot prices previous year was India, but it is now entering the market as they are declining.
India imported 1.84 million tonnes in March, up from the anticipated 1.27 million in Feb, which was the weakest total monthly since Jan 2017.
India’s imports in March surpassed 1.77 million tonnes from the same month previous year and were at their highest level since June 2022.
Thailand, Pakistan, & Bangladesh, three smaller Asian Liquefied natural gas importers, also saw an increase in coming in March compared to Feb.
LNG Imports & Exports
It’s important to note that Asia’s overall Liquefied natural gas imports were mostly stable in March, totaling 22.35 million tonnes, slightly increase from 22.18 million in Feb but lower on a daily basis.
This is primarily due to the fact that developed country importers, like Japan, often see fewer imports when the high winter demand season comes to an end. Arrivals in March are estimated to be 5.58 million tonnes, lower from 6.54 million in Feb.
The 3rd-largest Liquefied natural gas consumer in Asia, South Korea, imported 4.41 million tonnes of LNG in March, lower from 5.13 million in Feb.
At the same time, it appears that Europe’s LNG imports are increasing, indicating that utilities are also benefiting from lower spot prices to retain large natural gas reserves. These stores are essential to fend off the danger of a total end to already drastically reduced flows of Russian pipeline supply.
Europe resolves to Quit Russian LNG
According to Kpler, Europe imported 11.49 million tonnes of Liquefied natural gas in March compared to 11.37 million tonnes in Feb.
The fact that 11.87 million tonnes are expected to arrive in April per Kpler’s estimate indicates a further increase in that month’s demand.
The market is trying to determine whether the indications of a pick-up in demand in Europe & among some Asian purchasers will be sufficient to start a fresh rally in spot prices.
However, soon demand would decline from Asia’s price-sensitive consumers; including India and Pakistan, when spot prices will do rise.
It’s also important to note that the availability of Liquefied natural gas has been increasing, with global exports exceeding 36.83 million tonnes in March, the greatest monthly total in Kpler data going back to Jan 2009.
March saw an increase in exports from the 3 major LNG suppliers, the Qatar, U.S., & Australia.
United States LNG exports achieved a record peak of 7.79 million tonnes in March, and Australia’s exports, which totaled 7.25 million tonnes, also hit a new high.
Exports from Qatar increased from 6.37 million tonnes in Feb to 6.78 million tonnes.