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Qatar’s LNG Exports Remain a Major Play in the Market

The Pacific Basin proved to be the major driving force behind Qatar’s LNG exports. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “in the 12 months of 2020, global seaborne LNG trade increased marginally by +1.2% year-on-year to 362 mln tonnes, according to vessel tracking data from Refinitiv. This number might sound positive, until you remember that LNG trade grew by +11.6% y-o-y in 2019, and by +9.1% y-o-y in 2018. Therefore, this was still a pretty disappointing year for LNG, as lockdowns shut down much of the global economy”.

Banchero Costa added that “nevertheless, as seen for other commodities, the Pacific basin performed better than the Atlantic in terms of demand. LNG imports to Mainland China increased by +11.1% y-o-y in 2020 to 67.1 mln tonnes. To Taiwan the increase was +7.7% yo-y to 17.6 mln tonnes. Imports to India increased by +12.9% y-o-y to 25.3 mln tonnes. Shipments to South Korea increased by +0.5% y-o-y to 40.6 mln tonnes. Japan however saw a -2.3% y-o-y contraction to 74.6 mln tonnes. Imports to the European Union collapsed by -6.6% y-o-y to 62.7 mln tonnes In terms of exports, Qatar is still the single largest exporter of LNG, even though Australia is getting ever closer to overtake it. In the 12 months of 2020, Qatar exported 77.6 mln tonnes of LNG.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a.

This is a perfectly flat +0.0% y-o-y change from 2019. By comparison, LNG exports from Australia increased by an also modest +0.6% y-o-y to 77.3 mln tonnes. Shipments from the USA, on the other hand, surged by +31.9% y-o-y to 48.3 mln. Volumes from South East Asia were down -5.6% y-o-y to 45.4 mln. From Russia they were down by -2.3% y-o-y to 27.9 mln tonnes. From West Africa volumes were flat +0.4% y-o-y at 28.3 mln tonnes.

According to the shipbroker, “LNG shipments from Qatar saw limited seasonality in 2020. In the first 3 months of 2020, Qatar exported 20.2 mln tonnes of LNG, which was up +2.0% y-o-y. The second quarter of 2020 saw shipments of 19.1 mln tonnes from Qatar, flat +0.1% y-o-y. In the third quarter, Qatar exported 19.5 mln tonnes, down -2.2% y-o-y from the same quarter in 2019. The fourth quarter of 2020 saw 18.8 mln tonnes, flat +0.1% y-o-y. Whilst total export volumes from Qatar have been flat, there have been quite remarkable reshuffles in terms of destinations last year. LNG exports from Qatar to the European Union (excluding the UK) declined by -17.1% y-o-y in 2020, to just 12.9 mln tonnes. The EU (excl. the UK) was the destination for 16.7% of Qatar’s LNG. Volumes to the UK were also down by -4.1% y-o-y to 6.1 mln tonnes. The UK on its own accounts for 7.8% of Qatari shipments”.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a.

“Shipments also collapsed to South Korea, by -17.4% y-o-y to 9.0 mln tonnes. This is quite surprising, as overall Korean LNG imports actually increased last year, albeit marginally. Shipments to Mainland China also declined, by -4.7% y-o-y to 7.8 mln tonnes. On the other hand, exports from Qatar to Japan increased by +5.8% yo-y in 2020, to 9.1 mln tonnes. Shipments to India surged by +11.7% y-o-y to 10.4 mln tonnes. India is the second largest destination for Qatari gas, accounting for 13.4% of volumes. Volumes to Pakistan increased by +7.5% y-o-y to 5.3 mln tonnes. Shipments to Bangladesh increased by +20.3% y-o-y to 3.4 mln tonnes. To Thailand it was +19.5% y-o-y to 2.3 mln tonnes”, Banchero Costa concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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