The International Gas Union (IGU) has said that Qatar accounted for a lion’s share of 28.2 million tonnes out of 37.1 million tonnes of LNG traded between Middle East and Asia-Pacific in 2021.
In its World LNG Report 2022, the IGU said that Middle East and Asia-Pacific had the third largest LNG trade flow last year globally.
There were also significant flows from the Middle East to Asia (34.5 million tonnes), mostly driven by volumes from Qatar and the UAE to India, China and Pakistan.
The largest global LNG trade route continues to be intra-Asia Pacific trade with 81.9 million tonnes, driven mainly by continued growth in exports from Australia to Japan (26.8 million tonnes), South Korea (9.7 million tonnes) and Chinese Taipei (6.3 million tonnes), the report said.
Most of the remaining supply out of the Asia Pacific region ended up in Asia in 2021, as was the case in 2020. The region also saw the second-largest LNG trade flow in 2021 of 49 million tonnes, with 31 million tonnes going from Australia to China alone.
African LNG to Europe & Asia
The IGU report also said that African exports mostly flowed to Europe and Asia (23.6 million tonnes and 11.3 million tonnes respectively) where exports increased by +12 million tonnes and +1.7 million tonnes respectively, due to increased exports from Egypt, Algeria, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
European imports from Africa had to compete with imports from the US, which meant a reduction in flows. While India continued to be a large customer of African LNG in 2021, flows from Africa to India decreased by 2.4 million tonnes compared to 2020, with India taking more volumes from Qatar instead.
Imports into Asia Pacific from Africa increased to 5.4 million tonnes in 2021 from 3.7 million tonnes in 2020, mostly driven by an increase in flows from Egypt into Japan (+0.1 million tonnes), South Korea and Chinese Taipei (+0.1 million tonnes each), and Singapore (+0.3 million tonnes). This coincided with the restart of the Damietta LNG plant in Egypt in March 2021, which led to an increase in export volumes from Egypt to Asia Pacific.
Imports to Latin America increased significantly last year, with Brazil being the key driver. The largest increase in LNG flows into Latin America came from North America (+126.8%, +6.5 million tonnes) and the Middle East (+159.2%, +1.0 million tonnes).
Flows from North America mostly went into Europe (21.5 million tonnes, up from 18.5 million tonnes in 2020) and Asia Pacific (18.2 million tonnes, up from 12.7 million tonnes in 2020).
US LNG to Europe
A large share of US exports into Europe went to Spain (3.8 million tonnes), the Netherlands (3.2 million tonnes), the UK (2.9 million tonnes) and France (2.9 million tonnes).
Most of the additional exports from the US into Asia Pacific went into South Korea (8.7 million tonnes) and Japan (7.1 million tonnes) due to favourable netbacks in the winter months of 2021.
Asia Pacific (12.7 million tonnes in 2020 to 18.2 million tonnes in 2021) became the largest importer of North American LNG last year, overtaking Europe (18.5 million tonnes in 2020 to 21.5 million tonnes in 2021).
The majority of Russian exports were shipped to Europe (13 million tonnes in 2021, an increase from 12.6 million tonnes in 2020) and Asia Pacific (11.5 million tonnes, up from 10.7 millin tonnes in 2020).
The top three largest off-takers of Russian LNG in 2021 were Japan (6.6 million tonnes), China (4.7 million tonnes) and France (3.6 million tonnes).
Moving forward, export from Russia to Europe are expected to decrease as the European Union’s Repower Europe plan seeks to cut dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and end all fossil fuel imports by 2027.