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EIA: global trade in LNG grew by 4.5% in 2021

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LNG Industry,

An average of 49.0 billion ft3/d of LNG was traded globally during 2021, an increase of 2.2 billion ft3/d from 2020, according to The LNG Industry GIIGNL Annual Report 2022 by the International Group of LNG Importers (GIIGNL). New LNG export capacity, primarily in the US, and rising global demand for natural gas drove continued growth in global LNG trade last year.

Global LNG export capacity has increased by 29%, or 14.0 billion ft3/d, over the past five years (2017 - 2021), EIA states. The growth was led primarily by capacity additions of 9.6 billion ft3/d in the US, 2.2 billion ft3/d in Australia, and 1.7 billion ft3/d in Russia. Last year, LNG exports increased the most from the US, a 2.9 billion ft3/d increase compared with 2020. Australia increased its LNG exports by 0.1 billion ft3/d, remaining the world’s largest exporter for the second consecutive year. In North Africa, LNG exports from Egypt increased by 0.7 billion ft3/d and from Algeria by 0.2 billion ft3/d, the second- and third-largest year-on-year volumetric increases among all LNG-exporting countries.

Among LNG-importing regions in 2021, only Asia and Latin America increased annual imports: Asia by 2.4 billion ft3/d and Latin America by 0.6 billion ft3/d. In four of the past five years, China increased its imports of LNG more than any other country. In 2021, China’s LNG imports grew by 1.4 billion ft3/d, accounting for 57% of the increase in Asia’s LNG imports, EIA states. Japan’s LNG imports, essentially flat from 2020 to 2021, declined by 11% (1.2 billion ft3/d) between 2017 and 2021 as a result of nuclear units coming back online. India reduced LNG imports by 0.3 billion ft3/d in 2021 primarily because of record-high LNG spot prices in Asia.

Europe’s LNG imports were 8% (0.9 billion ft3/d) lower during 2021 than 2020 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, even as prices reached record highs. The UK and Italy reduced LNG imports more than other European countries between 2020 and 2021, by 0.3 billion ft3/d each.

In Latin America, Brazil had the most growth in LNG imports between 2020 and 2021. Brazil’s LNG imports increased by 0.6 billion ft3/d, averaging 0.9 billion ft3/d during 2021, as it experienced its worst drought in more than 90 years. The drought limited hydroelectric power generation and led to increased natural gas-fired electricity generation, EIA explains.

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