The volume of Japan’s LNG imports sank 4% year on year to 80.55 million tonnes in fiscal 2018, which ended on March 31, according to Finance Ministry figures released the last week.
At the same time, though, the cost of these imports surged 19.4% to about 4.87 trillion yen (US$43.4 billion) on higher prices. LNG imports accounted for 5.9% of Japan’s overall imports in terms of value in fiscal 2018.
The ministry’s figures also showed that the volume of Japan’s LNG imports fell for the fifth consecutive month in March on a year-on-year basis, tumbling 8.1% to 7.295 million tonnes.
During fiscal 2018, Japan imported 19.04 million tonnes of LNG from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), down 24% from a year earlier. Imports from the Middle East, dropped to 17.06 million tonnes, down 2.2% year on year.
The Finance Ministry’s figures do not break out specific volumes from each of Indonesia, Malaysia, Qatar and Australia, the biggest suppliers of the fuel to Japan.
The figures did show that LNG imports from Russia dropped 9.6% to 6.39 million tonnes in fiscal 2018. Japan also imported 2.83 million tonnes of LNG from the US in fiscal 2018, up 200.8% year on year.
During the first three months of 2019, Japan imported 22.19 million tonnes of LNG, down from 24.49 million tonnes.
In related news, South Korea’s imports declined to 2.77 million tonnes in March. This was down from the 4.29 million tonnes imported in March 2018 and also down from the previous month’s figure of 3.78 million tonnes.
March’s imports cost US$1.57 billion, down from US$2.09 billion in the same month of 2018. Therefore, while the total cost has decreased, the unit price increased.
Total imports for the year to date reached 10.37 million tonnes, with a total cost of US$6.13 billion. The first quarter in 2018 saw 12.96 million tonnes imported, at a cost of US$6.31 billion.
Imports are likely to continue contracting in April. In 2018, the month-on-month decline from March to April was 1.08 million tonnes, down by 25.2%. Assuming a similar reduction this month for the country, this would imply imports of around 2.07 million tonnes.
South Korea’s leading supplier during March was Qatar, which provided 760,700 tonnes during the period, up by 341,200 tonnes from February. The second largest supplier to South Korea was Malaysia, at 416,200 tonnes, and then the US, at 396,400 tonnes. The US surpassed Australia, which fell to fifth largest supplier, at 238,900 tonnes.