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Global LNG Trade Weakened last Week

Last week’s global LNG trade stood at 13.50mmt, having thus decreased by 1.94mmt (-12.6%) week-on-week.

Pacific Basin week-on-week exports suffer as Australia and Malaysia ship less.

The Pacific ended last week (2 – 8 September) with 0.32mmt (-11%) less in exports, down from 2.88mmt the week prior (26 August – 1 September). This in turn translated into weekly capacity utilisation of 85%, a decrease of 11pp.

The Basin’s most significant exporter – Australia – shipped only 1.42mmt last week, 0.27mmt (-16%) less than the week prior. Meanwhile, the Basin’s second largest exporter by capacity – Malaysia – reduced its weekly exports even more substantially by 0.30mmt (-57%).

Although Indonesian exports saw a significant increase of 0.13mmt to 0.32mmt (66%) over the same period, with the remaining Pacific LNG producers also growing their exports by 0.11mmt combined (not counting a Chinese re-export), these increments could still not compensate for lower Australian and Malaysian exports.

Lower Far Eastern demand also weighed on overall Pacific demand

Meanwhile, the Pacific’s imports contracted by 0.39mmt (-7.6%) to 4.74mmt last week. As a result, Pacific import capacity utilisation curved in by 5pp to 60%. China’s weekly LNG imports in particular had retreated by 0.36mmt (-27%) from 1.32mmt to 0.96mmt. Elsewhere, Japan also saw lower imports by 0.34mmt (-21%) so that its weekly offtake stood at 1.32mmt. 

Whilst recent Pacific import growth was often carried by India and South Korea, the latter decreased its week-on-week imports by 0.20mmt (-25%), which India could just about compensate with demand growth of 0.24mmt (60%) to 0.64mmt last week.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, small demand increments by smaller buyers in Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore and Mexico were insufficient to overcome last week’s demand reductions by the Far East’s major buyers. 

Export reductions in the western and northern Atlantic Basin outweighed small increments in Africa

Atlantic Basin exports had amounted to 2.27mmt by midnight on Sunday, a 11.7% decrease compared to the week prior. Among the few plants adding to weekly exports, Sabine Pass LNG in the United States increased shipments by 0.08mmt (19%) week-on-week to 0.53mmt, which was added to by Freeport LNG’s first cargo of 0.07mmt. Nevertheless, the relatively small export growth from those two plants could not compare to the more significant reductions at Corpus Christi LNG and Cove Point LNG, which cut back exports by a total of 0.21mmt. As Cameron LNG kept weekly shipments flat, US LNG saw a 0.06mmt (-7%) net reduction in shipments week-on-week. Further south, Atlantic LNG on Trinidad saw exports of only 0.18mmt, having slashed shipments by 0.16mmt (-47%) week-on-week. 

Meanwhile, African exporters essentially kept their shipments flat, raising cargo liftings only marginally by 0.01mt (2%) week-on-week, but which was far outweighed by 0.16mmt (-43%) lower exports by Novatek’s Yamal LNG in Russia.

European demand cooled off alongside temperatures

Over the same one-week period, Atlantic Basin imports decreased by 0.44mmt (-19%) to 1.85mmt. As a result, Atlantic import capacity utilisation stood at 39% for the week, a decrease of 9pp over the week prior. European buyers (including BOTAŞ in Turkey) in particular reduced imports by 0.22mmt (-14%) to 1.38mmt last week. The busiest European terminal last week was Spain’s Bahia de Bizkaia facility close to Bilbao, which took in 0.22mmt. 

Meanwhile, buyers along the eastern coasts of the American continents (including the Caribbean) saw negative import growth of 0.12mmt (-35%) week-on-week.

Middle Eastern exporters kept output steady whilst demand saw usual fluctuation 

As for the Middle East, the region’s exports had fallen marginally by 0.06mmt by midnight on Sunday, pegging regional export capacity utilisation at 86% for the week (-3pp week-on-week). Qatar had shipped 1.65mmt whilst the UAE and Oman saw combined exports of 0.19mmt. Egypt’s Idku LNG, meanwhile, shipped no cargo last week.

Middle Eastern LNG peak demand seasons is showing signs of running its course

Concurrently, the Middle East’s imports saw negative growth, decreasing drastically by 64% to 0.24mmt as only Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan imported one cargo each. The Middle East’s import capacity utilisation thus stood at 39% for the week, constituting a cyclical fluctuation by 70pp over the week prior.

Notably, the current vessel schedule suggests Middle Eastern demand will remain flat this week and thus may not recover as quickly as it had done two weeks ago as the summer peak demand period is beginning to run its course.