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Next big growth spurt for global LNG import demand to come in 2020s, report says

Global LNG demand is expected to exceed 300 million tonnes per year in 2018, but demand growth may then taper for a few years before picking back up in the 2020s, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report.

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LNG demand could hit a record 305 million tonnes per annum in 2018, the report said, having reached 285 mtpa in 2017.

The varied pace of infrastructure development around the world is expected to create uneven LNG demand growth over the coming years, according to the report, released March 22.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance, or BNEF, said it sees demand reaching 314 mtpa to 330 mtpa and hovering in that range between 2019 and 2022. Russian gas pipelines coming online should fulfill some of China's gas demand during that time, while Japanese nuclear power plant additions may cut into the nation's need for LNG, the report said.

Further into the 2020s, other developments should begin driving up imports again, resulting in a compound annual growth rate of 5% between 2023 and 2030, BNEF said.

Restrictions on gas production in the Netherlands could drive up European LNG imports in 2018 to 2020 above what was previously expected, especially as European nations retire coal power plants and try to limit their reliance on Russian pipeline supplies, the report said. These factors, along with declining Dutch gas production, could push the continent's LNG imports above 104 mtpa by 2030, according to BNEF.

Demand growth, especially from Asia, is expected to prompt new sales and purchase agreements for U.S. gas, and BNEF projected that about 65 mtpa of supply projects, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico, could complete final investment decisions over the next two years.

That would be an increase over the 20 mtpa of new contracts that came out of 2017, according to the report. BNEF said it expects contract signings to pick up noticeably in 2020 and the need for new contracts to rise from 13 mtpa in 2022 to 297 mtpa by 2030.