The volume of Japan’s LNG imports grew for the first time in three months in August on a year-on-year basis, climbing by 4.4% to 7.575 million tonnes, according to trade figures released by the Finance Ministry last week. The year-on-year increase follows declines of 10.3% in June and 0.1% in July.
The value of Japan’s LNG imports surged 28.6% year on year to 444.568 billion yen (US$3.99 billion) in August. The import value grew at a much faster pace than the import volume, driven by higher import prices. LNG imports accounted for 6.2% of Japan’s overall imports in terms of value in August.
In August, Japan bought in 1.641 million tonnes of LNG from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes Indonesia and Malaysia, down 11.4% from the previous year. Japan imported 1.384 million tonnes of LNG from the Middle East, including Qatar, in August, down 2.6% year on year.
The Finance Ministry figures do not break out specific volume of LNG imports from each of Indonesia, Malaysia, Qatar and Australia, the biggest suppliers of the fuel to Japan.
Volumes from Russia reached 525,000 tonnes in August, down 19.7% compared with the same month of 2017. Japan also imported 255,000 tonnes of LNG from the US in August.
Japanese power companies have significantly boosted electricity generation at thermal power plants (TPPs), especially LNG-fired ones, to make up for lost output at nuclear power plants (NPPs) since the 2011 disaster. However, LNG volumes are now broadly falling, as some nuclear reactors have been brought back online.