Average global LNG traded volume in 2021 was 49 bcfd, an increase of 4.5% from 2020. New LNG export capacity, primarily in the US, and growing global demand for natural gas fueled continued growth in global LNG trade last year, according to a 2022 report by the International Group of LNG Importers (GIIGNL).
Over the past 5 years (2017-21), global LNG export capacity has increased by 29%, or 14 bcfd. This increase was primarily driven by capacity additions of 9.6 bcfd in the US, 2.2 bcfd in Australia, and 1.7 bcfd in Russia, the report said. The US saw the largest increase in LNG exports last year, up 2.9 bcfd compared to 2020. Australia's LNG exports increased by 0.1 bcfd, making the country the world's largest LNG exporter for the second year in a row. In North Africa, Egypt's LNG exports increased by 0.7 bcfd and Algeria's exports increased by 0.2 bcfd, the second and third largest year-on-year growth among all LNG exporters, GIIGNL continued.
Of the LNG importing regions in 2021, only Asia and Latin America increased annual imports: 2.4 bcfd in Asia and 0.6 bcfd in Latin America. In 4 of the past 5 years, China added more LNG imports than any other country. In 2021, China's LNG imports increased by 1.4 bcfd, accounting for 57% of the increase in Asian LNG imports. Japan's LNG imports were largely flat from 2020 to 2021 but fell by 11% (1.2 bcfd) between 2017 and 2021 as nuclear installations came back online. India reduced its LNG imports by 0.3 bcfd in 2021, largely due to record LNG spot prices in Asiam, the report said.
European LNG imports in 2021 were 8% (0.9 bcfd) lower than in 2020, as large and flexible LNG supplies (mostly from the US) were shipped to Asia and Brazil. Lower LNG imports in Europe contributed to record-low natural gas storage inventories during 2021, even as prices reached record highs. The US and Italy reduced LNG imports more than other European countries between 2020 and 2021, by 0.3 bcfd each, GIIGNL said.
In Latin America, Brazil had the most growth in LNG imports between 2020 and 2021. Brazil’s LNG imports increased by 0.6 bcfd, averaging 0.9 bcfd during 2021, as it experienced its worst drought in more than 90 years. The drought limited hydroelectric power generation and led to increased natural gas-fired electricity generation, the report said.