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EU Seaborne LNG Imports Growing With Tremendous Pace

The pace with which the EU has been importing LNG by sea is tremendous so far this year, as a result of the situation in Ukraine. In a recent report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “in 2021, the European Union (27) was the third largest seaborne importer of LNG in the world, with a 15.8% share. It followed Mainland China with 20.2% and Japan with a 19.7% share. LNG imports into Europe seriously jumped in 2019, with the start of a number of projects. In the 12 months of 2019, European LNG imports jumped by +65.4% y-o-y to 65.6 mln tonnes, from 39.7 mln tonnes in 2018. Since then, volumes have been drifting down, due to more limited energy demand, at a time of Covid lockdowns and a weak economy. In 2020, the EU imported 62.8 mln tonnes of LNG, which was -4.2% down from 2019. In 2021, imports dwindled further, with just 58.5 mln tonnes, down a further -6.8% y-o-y from 2020”.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a

“Things however took a dramatic turn in the first quarter of 2022, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine pushing Europe to secure alternative sources of energy. In the first 3 months of 2022, the EU imported 22.1 mln tonnes of seaborne LNG, up by +72.8% y-o-y from the 12.8 mln tonnes in the first quarter of 2021. This also made the EU into the world’s top importer of LNG so far this year, with a 20.9% share of global imports, ahead of Japan’s 19.7% and Mainland China’s 15.7% In terms of individual countries, this was 6.4 mln t to France, 5.4 mln t to Spain, 2.6 mln t to the Netherlands, 2.2 mln t to Italy, 2.0 mln t to Belgium, 1.2 mln t to Portugal, 0.8 mln t to Poland, 0.7 mln t Greece. Equally significant growth has been seen in imports into the United Kingdom”, said the shipbroker.

According to Banchero Costa, “in the first quarter of 2022, LNG imports into the UK jumped by +51.3% y-o-y to 5.7 mln tonnes, from, 3.8 mln tonnes in 1Q 2021. On the other hand, LNG imports into China slowed down somewhat from record levels last year. Volumes 1Q 2022 declined by -13.9% y-o-y to 16.7 mln tonnes, from 19.4 mln tonnes in 1Q 2021. Imports into Japan also declined in 1Q 2022 by -10.8% y-o-y to 20.9 mln tonnes from 23.5 mln t in 1Q 2021. In terms of sources for LNG shipments into Europe, there has been a huge huge jump in volumes from the United States. In the first 3 months of 2022, the EU imported 10.4 mln tonnes of LNG from the USA, up +234.8% y-o-y from 3.1 mln tonnes in 1Q 2021. The USA accounted for 46.9% of seaborne LNG imports into Europe in the first quarter of 2022”.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a

Meanwhile, “despite all the talk of sanctions, volumes from Russia have not declined, far from it. In 1Q 2022, the EU imported 4.1 mln tonnes of LNG from Russia, up by +49.1% y-o-y compared to 2.7 mln tonnes in 1Q 2021. This was an all time record. The EU has never imported as much LNG from Russia as this year. In fact, March 2022 was an all time record month for Russian LNG imports into the EU. In March 2022, the EU imported 1.6 mln tonnes of LNG from Russia, up +14.5% m-o-m from February 2022, and up +34.3% y-o-y from March 2021. In 1Q 2022, Russia accounted for 18.3% of the EU’s seaborne LNG imports. West Africa is now in third place amongst top suppliers to Europe, shipping 2.8 mln tonnes to the EU in Jan-Mar 2022, up +27.0% y-o-y. West Africa accounts for 12.7% of EU’s LNG imports. Imports from Qatar, on the other hand, have continued to decline. In 1Q 2022, the EU imported 2.2 mln t of LNG from Qatar, down -2.0% yo-y from 2.3 mln t in 1Q 2021. Qatar accounts for 10.1% of the EU’s total seaborne LNG imports. Shipments from North Africa to the EU also declined by -13.5% y-o-y to 1.7 mln t in 1Q 2022, from a record high 1.9 mln t in 1Q 2021”, the shipbroker concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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