LNG exports from the USA have become a main source of cargo demand for LNG shipping, as the country even managed to become the no1 exporter during the first four months of 2023, edging out Australia and Qatar. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “global seaborne LNG trade has continued to surge last year, helped also by the events in Ukraine which forced Europe to diversify away from Russian pipeline gas. In the full 12 months of 2022, global shipments of LNG increased by +5.0% y-o-y to 404.3 mln t, based on Refinitiv vessel tracking data. By far the biggest increase in demand last year came from Europe. In Jan-Dec 2022, the European Union imported 100.9 mln tonnes of LNG, an increase of +68.9% y-o-y from the 59.7 mln tonnes imported in 2021.
According to the shipbroker, “the EU27 now accounts for 24.9% of global seaborne LNG imports. In the same period, the United Kingdom also imported 19.4 mln tonnes of LNG, up +75.4% y-o-y from the 11.1 mln tonnes in 2021. The UK now accounts for 4.8% of global LNG imports. Shipments to Asia, on the other hand, declined across the board. Mainland China imported just 64.4 mln tonnes of LNG in 2022, -18.5% yo-y from 79.0 mln tonnes in 2021. India saw a similar -18.1% y-o-y decline to 19.1 mln t in 2022, from 23.4 men tonnes in 2021. Imports to Japan declined a more modest -3.8% y-o-y to 73.6 mln t. Volumes to South Korea also increased by +1.1% y-o-y to 47.4 mln tonnes in 2022”.
Meanwhile, “in the first 4 months of 2023, global LNG loadings were up +3.8% y-o-y at 140.3 mln tonnes. The USA are now emerging at the forefront of global LNG exports. In 2022, the United States were the third largest exporter of LNG after Australia and Qatar, with a 19.7% share of global export volumes. In the full 12 months of 2022, the USA exported 79.4 mln tonnes of LNG, which represented a +9.6% y-oy increase from the 72.5 mln tonnes shipped in 2021. Volumes have been going up exponentially for many years now. In 2021, exports from the USA increased by a massive +50.3% y-o-y, whilst in 2020 growth was +31.8% yo-y, in 2019 it was +66.3% y-o-y, and in 2018 it was +54.1% y-o-y”.
Banchero Costa said that “in the first 4 months of 2023, the USA exported 28.8 mln tonnes of LNG, which was just a +2.5% y-o-y increase, but was enough to make the USA the number one exporter in the world, ahead of the 27.5 mln tonnes shipped from Australia in the same period. In Jan-Apr 2023, Australia exported 27.5 mln tonnes of LNG, up +4.9% yo-y, whilst Qatar exported 27.0 mln tonnes, up +3.6% y-o-y. In terms of destinations for American LNG, the main routes are now transatlantic to the EU and UK. In Jan-Dec 2022, LNG exports from the USA to the European Union increased by +138.2% y-o-y to 41.6 mln tonnes from 17.5 mln t in 2021. The EU was now the destination for 52.4% of the USA’s total LNG exports in the full 12 months of 2022. Volumes to the UK also surged by +137.8% y-o-y in 9.4 mln tonnes in 2022, from 4.0 mln t in 2021. The UK was the destination for 11.9% of American LNG shipments last year. The third top destination after the EU and the UK is South Korea, which accounted for 7.3% of USA LNG shipments in Jan-Dec 2022. Shipments from the USA to South Korea declined by -35.2% y-o-y last year to 5.8 mln tonnes. Exports to Japan also declined in 2022, by -41.9% y-o-y to 4.2 mln tonnes, with Japan holding a 5.2% share of US exports. Shipments to Mainland China also crashed by -79.2% y-o-y in Jan-Dec 2022 to 1.8 mln tonnes, from an exceptional (and unsustainable) 8.8 mln tonnes in 2021. Volumes from the USA to India also declined by -39.6% y-o-y to 2.3 mln tonnes in Jan-Dec 2022. To South America volumes declined by -66.1% y-o-y to 3.7 mln tonnes. The top loading ports in the USA are Sabine Pass Louisiana (30.1 mln t in Jan-Dec 2022), Corpus Christi Texas (15.4 mln t), Hackberry Louisiana (13.4 mln t), Freeport Texas (6.6 mln t), Cameron Louisiana (6.5 mln t), Cove Point Maryland (5.1 mln t)”, the shipbroker said.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide