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Pakistan's LNG imports seen rebounding after weaker June inflows

Karachi/Singapore — Pakistan's LNG imports declined sharply in June, as coronavirus-related restrictions forced several industrial units and companies to either cut production or shut entire units, but inflows are expected to rise in the following months, data from the government, Platts Analytics as well as analysts showed.

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June imports were down 25.4% on the year to 570,000 mt, Platts Analytics data showed. For the first half of 2020, imports fell 18.13% on the year to 3.59 million mt.

According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics -- which releases only the dollar value of imports -- Pakistan's LNG imports in June declined 41% on the year, with imports valued at $166 million, compared with $279 million in June 2019.

"Beside reduction in demand of LNG owing to COVID-19 that resulted in closure of several industrial units or partial working of companies, the fall in crude oil price also played a pivotal role in reducing the import bill," said Shankar Talreja, senior analyst at Karachi-based brokerage house Topline Securities.

"LNG imports likely to increase until August and September due to higher requirement from the power sector."

LNG imports between July 2019 and June 2020 were valued at $2.662 billion, compared with $3.336 billion in the corresponding year, government data showed.

Pakistan's fiscal year runs from July to June.

Anticipating a rise in demand, state-run Pakistan LNG Ltd. last month invited bids for supply of three LNG cargoes of 140,000 cu m each to be delivered between August and September. The cargoes are for delivery ex-ship basis at Port Qasim. The first delivery window is August 27-28, second in September 12-13 and third for the September 25-26 period.

Spot LNG prices have been under pressure this year due to wide-scale demand destruction from the pandemic, with JKM -- the benchmark for Asian spot LNG prices -- down over 53% from the beginning of the year to $2.463/MMBtu as of July 20.