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Asia LNG Purchases Hit March Record

Imports of liquefied natural gas into Asia last month hit the highest ever for that month, at 24 million tons, which was a 12% increase on a year earlier, Bloomberg reported, citing Kpler data.

The leaders of the importers’ pack were China, India, and Thailand, the data showed, with imports expected to continue at elevated levels as ample gas inventories are dampening demand for new shipments and lower prices on the spot market.

Because of that lower demand, shipments of liquefied gas to Europe dropped 20% in March from a year earlier, Kpler also said.

Within Asia, India led with the highest increase in LNG imports, at close to 20%, followed by China, whose LNG purchases increased by 22% in March from a year earlier. Japan’s LNG intake added 8%, after two months of import declines in a row, the data also showed.

Weak European demand has helped push LNG prices lower, making the fuel more attractive for large Asian buyers. Three months before the March record, shipments of LNG to Asia hit the highest ever for any month: the December total stood at 26.61 million tons, again per Kpler data.

High LNG import levels in China and the rest of Asia could create more competition for LNG supply to Europe at a later point as the continent is now more dependent on the super-chilled fuel for its natural gas supply after the loss of a large part of the Russian pipeline gas supply.

The relative calmness in the LNG market in recent months could turn into volatile turbulence again if fresh supply concerns emerge and if this winter is really cold in Europe and/or Asia.

These lower LNG prices on the spot market could see China break its own LNG import record, set back in 2021, and boost India’s intake of liquefied natural gas by 10% this year. In 2021, China imported 78.8 million tons of LNG.

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Asia LNG purchases on the spot market totaled 161 cargoes over the first three months of the year, S&P Global data shows, which was an annual increase of about 33%

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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