Asian LNG Imports Jump to Record for March on Bargain Buying

Apr 1, 2024 7:54 pm | News

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(Bloomberg) — Global liquefied natural gas supplies are shifting back to Asia after a drop in prices prompted a flurry of purchases from emerging nations.

Shipments to Asia rose to about 24 million tons in March, a 12% increase from last year and the highest ever for the month, according to ship-tracking figures from data intelligence company Kpler. The growth was led by importers including China, India and Thailand.

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More LNG is slated to continue flowing into Asia, reducing deliveries to Europe where inventories are at a seasonal high. 

Ample supply and mild winter weather have kept Asian LNG prices near the lowest level in three years, making it cost competitive with alternative fossil fuels. Swing buyers in emerging nations rushed to procure cargoes after months of limited activity.

Shipments to Europe in March fell 20% from a year earlier to the lowest level since September, according to Kpler data. Europe was forced to boost purchases of the fuel following the 2022 invasion of Ukraine in order to reduce dependence on Russian pipeline gas.

Read more: China Turns to LNG Spot Market With Prices at Three-Year Low

China’s imports of the super-chilled fuel surged by 22% in March from a year earlier, according to Kpler. Indian shipments jumped by almost 30%. Deliveries to Japan rose by 8%, reversing two months of declines. 

Lower LNG prices in Asia and Europe are also making it less attractive for China and Japan’s top importers to resell shipments, instead opting to bring deliveries back to their domestic market.

Other spot market news:

  • Indian Oil purchased an LNG cargo on a DES basis for 2H April delivery to the Ennore terminal
  • Thailand’s state-run energy company PTT purchased four LNG cargoes on a DES basis for May-June delivery
    • Prices were equivalent to low to mid-$9/mmbtu
  • QatarEnergy has signed four agreements to charter 19 liquefied natural gas carriers from Asian ship operators as it prepares to ramp up output

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(Updates with other spot market news after seventh paragraph.)

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