The world imported more liquefied natural gas (LNG) than ever before, with most of it concentrated in wealthy European countries and away from poorer Asian countries like Pakistan.
According to Refinitiv data, total global LNG imports increased to 409 million tons last year, up from 386.5 million tons in 2021, while figures from commodity analysts Kpler showed a slightly lower 400.5 million tons, up from 379.6 million tons, Reuters reported on Thursday.
Countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh saw lower LNG imports in 2022. Overall, the Asia’s total imports came down from 282.08 million tons to 263.76 million tons in 2022.
The record volumes were to be expected given the launch of new supply trains as well as increased demand for the super-chilled fuel, particularly from Europe, which has shifted away from Russian piped natural gas in the aftermath of Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The year 2022 reversed the dynamic in which Asia’s developing nations grew LNG demand, with China relinquishing its position as the top importer to Japan.
According to Kpler data, China imported 64.44 million tons of LNG in 2022, a 19.4 percent decrease from the previous year. Meanwhile, Japan’s imports fell as well, from 75.35 million tons in 2021 to 73.61 million tons in 2022, but this was still enough to overtake China.
The LNG that did not go to Asia was purchased by Europe, with imports increasing 59 percent to 124.93 million tons in 2022 from 78.55 million tons the previous year. The United States supplied a large portion of the increase, with imports increasing to 52.06 million tons from 21.5 million tons in 2021.
However, imports of Russian LNG into Europe reached a record high of 15.95 million tons in 2022, up from 13.46 million tons in 2021.
While many European countries have moved to prohibit Russian crude oil, refined fuels, and coal imports, only the United Kingdom and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia have prohibited Russian LNG imports.