Global trade in LNG in 2021 increased by 2.2 billion ft3/d, or 4.5%, compared with 2020, and averaged 49.0 billion ft3/d, according to The LNG Industry GIIGNL Annual Report 2022 by the International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL). New LNG export capacity additions, primarily in the US, as well as rising demand for natural gas in key LNG-consuming countries, contributed to continued growth in global LNG trade in 2021.
In the past five years (2017 – 2021), global LNG export capacity has increased by 14.0 billion ft3/d (29%), led primarily by capacity additions in the US (9.6 billion ft3/d), Australia (2.2 billion ft3/d), and Russia (1.7 billion ft3/d). In 2021, LNG exports increased the most from the US, growing 2.9 billion ft3/d (50%) compared with 2020. Australia increased its LNG exports by 0.1 billion ft3/d (1%) and remained the world’s largest LNG exporter for the second consecutive year. In North Africa, LNG exports from Egypt and Algeria increased by 0.7 billion ft3/d and 0.2 billion ft3/d, respectively, representing the second- and third-largest y/y volumetric increases among all LNG-exporting countries. Egypt resumed LNG exports from Damietta LNG in early 2021. This liquefaction plant was shut down in 2012 because of shortages of natural gas feedstock.
Among LNG-importing regions, only Asia and Latin America posted an increase in annual imports. From 2020 to 2021, LNG imports increased in Asia by 2.4 billion ft3/d (7%) and in Latin America by 0.6 billion ft3/d (45%). In four of the past five years, China had the largest increase in LNG imports of any country. In 2021, China’s LNG imports grew by 1.4 billion ft3/d, accounting for 57% of the total increase in Asia’s LNG imports. Japan’s LNG imports, essentially flat from 2020 to 2021, declined from 2017 to 2021 by 1.2 billion ft3/d (11%) as a result of more nuclear units coming back online.
Other countries in Asia, including South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Myanmar, also increased LNG imports in 2021 compared with 2020. Higher imports in these countries, with a combined 1.5 billion ft3/d, have more than offset a 0.4 billion ft3/d decline in imports by all other LNG-importing countries in Asia (primarily India). India reduced LNG imports by 10% (0.3 billion ft3/d) in response to record-high LNG spot prices in Asia.
European countries (including Turkey) had lower LNG imports in 2021 compared with 2020 — by a combined 0.9 billion ft3/d (8%), mainly because larger volumes of flexible LNG supplies, primarily from the US, were shipped to Asia and Brazil. Lower LNG imports in Europe contributed to record-low natural gas storage inventories during 2021 in the region and record-high prices. Among countries in Europe, the UK and Italy had the largest y/y reduction in LNG imports, by 0.3 ft3/d each.
In Latin America, Brazil led the growth in LNG imports. Brazil’s LNG imports increased by 0.6 ft3/d y/y and averaged 0.9 ft3/d in 2021 because Brazil experienced its worst drought in more than 90 years, which limited hydroelectric power generation and led to increased natural gas-fired electricity generation.
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