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International Group of LNG Importers reports an industry in great shape for return to normal

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The France-based International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL) has issued its annual report with landmark statistics, including more than 10,000 cargoes delivered without incident and the global LNG carrier fleet passing the 600-vessel mark.

“LNG flows experienced a shift in patterns,” said GIIGNL President Jean-Marie Dauger in his executive overview of the 2020 publication.

“Northeast Asian demand growth moderated due to economic slowdown, milder weather and competition from nuclear and coal-fired power generation, while most of additional LNG volumes were absorbed into Europe which played a balancing role thanks to its abundant infrastructure and well-connected gas market,” he explained.

The GIIGLN constitutes a forum for exchange of information and experience among its 88 members with the aim of enhancing the safety, reliability, efficiency and sustainability of LNG import activities and in particular the operation of regasification terminals.

The GIIGNL said that while no new country joined the ranks of importers in 2019, several countries made sound progress on infrastructure development and are set to begin importing in the coming year or two.

“At the start of 2020 eight new floating terminals and 18 new onshore terminals were reported to be under development,” said the GIIGNL President.

“Total regasification capacity under construction at year-end reached 131 million tonnes per annum,” added Dauger.

“About 63 percent of the capacity under construction was located in Asia, of which nearly half was in China and India,” he said.

Global regasification capacity stood at 920 MTPA at the start of 2020 and there were 42 importing countries.

Seven new terminals were commissioned, adding a combined 13 MTPA of new regasification capacity.

Two terminals are based on a floating solution and four are small-scale facilities with a regasification capacity of less than 1 MTPA.

“Three expansion programs were completed in India, Taiwan and Thailand, adding 5 MTPA of LNG regasification capacity,” said Dauger in his overview.

In Asia, demand was characterized by two diverging trends: on the one hand, it continued to be boosted by China despite the US-China trade frictions and the slowdown of the coal-to-gas switch in the industrial sector.

On the other hand LNG demand declined in Japan and South Korea, where increasing levels of nuclear power generation and the pace of renewables deployment influenced the role of LNG in the power mix.

“In Europe, the absorption of surplus volumes was enabled by a combination of lower pipeline imports, declining domestic production, increased storage use and additional gas-fired power generation,” he explained.

“Imports dwindled in the Middle East as Egypt increased its exports. The same dynamic occurred in South America as Argentina started LNG production and exports,” added Dauger.

The GIIGNL report also noted that for LNG sellers and buyers, business models and contractual arrangements are becoming increasingly diversified.

“Traders continue to take advantage of seasonal and local supply tensions and integrated portfolio players are displaying impressive growth, aiming to bridge the disconnect between LNG seller and buyer interests,” it said.

“We see competing interests, a world in which sellers require long-term commitments to support their investments, whereas buyers need shorter contract durations, diversified pricing structures, increased destination flexibility and greater volume flexibility in order to manage demand uncertainty,” added the report.

LNG commercial operations over the previous near enabled the delivery of 100,000 cargoes without major incident, showing a remarkable track-record of safety.

“As we enter a new decade and as GIIGNL is approaching its 50th anniversary, our association remains committed to promoting cooperation between LNG players and to supporting the development of safe, efficient and sustainable LNG imports for a responsible energy transition,” stated President Dauger.