January 12th 2023
We expect global LNG imports to increase by 4.3% per year in 2023-24, after estimated growth of 4.1% in 2022, which was driven by a surge in supplies to Europe to fill the deficit left by the closure of most pipelines from Russia. The extra demand from Europe pulled cargoes away from Asia in 2022, resulting in a slump in imports by China amid a rare contraction in overall demand for natural gas. High spot prices have led to a sharp fall in imports in south Asia, although major north-east Asian importers (Japan, South Korea and Taiwan) have been shielded to some extent, as most of their LNG imports are based on long-term contracts, with prices considerably lower than those on the spot market. We expect the Asian market to recover slowly in 2023-24, as capacity constraints will limit further growth in European imports. Looking further ahead, Asia will regain its dominance of LNG import growth, as reflected in the recent signing of a 27-year contract by the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) for 4m tonnes/year (t/y) of LNG from Qatar's North Field East expansion, starting in 2026.
We forecast that supply will increase by 4.3% per year on average in 2023-24, with the bulk of additional exports coming from the US. There will be a significant contribution from new producers, notably Mozambique, Mauritania and Senegal, and increased exports from Egypt. We also expect a small increase in volumes from Australia and Qatar. We estimate that supply increased by 4.1% in 2022, according to the GIIGNL. Export growth was constrained in 2022 by the prolonged closure of the Freeport LNG plant, which accounts for about 17% of US capacity. US exports still increased over the year, mainly as other plants came on stream and through higher capacity utilisation, but by a smaller margin than if Freeport were operating.