The year 2015 is soon coming to a close, and the contraction in East Asian LNG imports has been a leading story for most of the year. In spite of the fewer cargos heading to Japan, South Korea and China, global LNG exports grew by an estimated 3.5%, making substantial incremental volumes of LNG available to the remaining LNG markets. Using LNG trade flow date from Kpler, we were able to determine the global markets where imports grew the fastest, and by precisely how much. So without further ado, here are the results:
Figure 1: LNG Import Growth by Market Region (2015 vs. 2014)
#1) Middle East
LNG imports into the Middle East grew faster than for any other market region in the world, both on an absolute (+6.4 mtpa!) and percentage (+142.4%!!) basis. Egypt’s and Jordan’s rapid deployment of floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) enabled them to join the ranks of LNG importing nations in 2015, and this was responsible for most of the increase. However, the pre-existing LNG importers in this region (Dubai, Kuwait and Israel) would have succeeded in grabbing the #2 spot in the survey even on their own, given their impressive stand-alone import growth (+34.8%) in 2015. One final note: after two years as the fastest growing LNG market, the Mideast overtook North America and Southeast Asia in 2015 to become the 6th largest LNG market in our survey.
#2) Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia was the year’s second fastest growing LNG market (+35.8%), with three of the four countries in this region (Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia) notching up double digit gains, although Malaysia did dampen the overall result by registering a small decline. This is the second year for Southeast Asia as the second fastest growing market, and we expect this trend to continue. Given Singapore’s goal of becoming a global LNG hub, and rapidly increasing gas demand (and new regas terminals) on the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Java, this region’s importance will only grow in the years ahead.
#3) Northern Europe
Notching up a growth rate just a few points behind that of Southeast Asia (+33.8%), Northern Europe was the 3rd fastest growing LNG market. A variety of factors coalesced to produce this outcome, including Dutch policy to cap Groningen output and reduced Russian pipeline gas imports. Northern Europe is also uniquely positioned to serve as the world’s ‘LNG sink’ for excess cargos, given its extensive, flexible and accessible LNG and natural gas infrastructure and markets.
#4) South Asia
With 15.5% growth in 2015, South Asia overtook Latin America to become the 3rd largest LNG import market after East Asia and Southern Europe. In absolute terms, the growth was split equally between India, which retained the #4 spot among LNG importing countries, and Pakistan, whose first LNG terminal, also an FSRU, came on-line in 2015, and whose appetite for shorter and longer-term cargos is yet to be quenched.
The complete set of results and rankings are shown below:
Table 1: LNG Import Growth by Market Region (2015 vs. 2014)