Global LNG trade up 4.5% in 2021 as economic recovery continues

Out of global LNG demand, Asia continues as leading importing region

Global LNG imports increased year on year by 4.5% to 372.3 million tonnes in 2021, according to the latest report of the International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL) on Friday.

The report’s data showed that global LNG imports increased by 16.2 million tonnes in 2021 due to the post-lockdown economic recovery and continued coal-to-gas switch, although the annual growth rate of 4.5% remained far from pre-pandemic levels.

The recovery has been uneven across regions, with Asia recording the highest growth led by China which overtook Japan as the world’s leading LNG importer

while Europe struggled to attract LNG cargoes throughout most of the year, the report said.

One new country – Croatia – began LNG imports in 2021, raising the number of importing countries to 44 while the number of exporting countries reached 19.

The report said that 136.3 million tonnes of LNG were imported on the spot market or on a short-term basis.

Out of global LNG demand, Asia continued as the leading importing region, with a 73% share of global LNG imports, up 7% compared to 2020, led by China, Japan and South Korea.

China imported 79.3 million tonnes, while Japan’s imports amounted to 74.4 million tonnes.

Australia was the main exporter of LNG in 2021 with 78.5 million tonnes, followed by sizable contributions from Qatar, the US and Malaysia.

According to the report, Europe recorded a decrease in LNG imports compared to the previous year, with LNG volumes directed to Asia instead of Europe throughout most of the year.

“This situation worsened until the last quarter of 2021 and Europe’s difficulty to fill in its underground storages forced demand to adjust through a reduction in industrial consumption and gas-to-coal switching,” the report explained.

Turkiye ranks fourth in Europe

Europe’s LNG imports in 2021 decreased 8% to 75 million tonnes.

Spain ranked as the top LNG importer in Europe with 13.8 million tonnes last year followed by France with 12.3 million tonnes.

The United Kingdom, Turkiye and Italy followed, respectively.

Turkiye imported 4.3 million tonnes of LNG from Algeria and 1 million tonnes from Nigeria. Norway, Egypt and the US also contributed to Turkiye’s LNG imports.


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