Compiled from two sources: World Gas Intelligence and Fairplay 24, Feb 9, 2011
Full-year 2010 LNG import data for East Asia are now in (the World Gas Intelligence report), and they confirm early indications of a surge that left regional LNG imports of 123 million tons (167 bcm) up 17.5% from 2009 and more than 14% from the previous peak of 107.8 million tons recorded in 2008.
Leading the rise was China, whose LNG imports shot up by 68% to 9.3 million tons. Japan, which has a much larger intake of LNG, had an 8.4% rise, but to 69.95 million tons, to marginally exceed its 2008 record high. South Korea closed out the year with 25.6% growth to 32.47 million tons, down from a year-to-date increase of 30% for the first 11 months, reflecting a 5.4% slide in December imports. "This is an astounding performance for LNG in the face of an 11% increase in the average ex-ship price paid in the region over the course of last year to $10.16 per million BTU," a WGI analyst said. The figures showed an increase in gas use in East Asia, not merely a rapid recovery from the 2008-9 financial crisis and ensuing recession, the analyst added.
By comparison, oil demand grew by 9.4% in China in 2010 and by just 1.1% in Japan.
(Japan is the world's largest importer of liquefied natural gas---LNG---followed by South Korea and Spain, according to the 2010 data. LNG demand in Japan was buoyed by increased power generation to meet higher air-conditioning demand during hot summer weather last year that saw temperatures soar. A series of technical problems at Japanese nuclear reactors also helped to push up spot LNG demand, with utilities forced to raise their thermal power generation levels to make up for the nuclear power disruptions. For major LNG exporters to Japan in 2010, please see bar chart here. Concerning the South Korea's imports of LNG, please read also my post remarks, in round brackets, here. For South Korea's 2010 LNG imports, please see also my post "Asian LNG Outlook ...," here. -- D.R.)