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Taiwan's LNG imports in 2019 stagnate first time in 10 years

Singapore — Taiwan's LNG imports in 2019 fell 0.49% year on year to 17.02 million mt, making it the first yearly fall in the imports since 2009, latest preliminary data from Taiwan's Customs Administration showed.

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Even if numbers are revised up in the coming months, 2019 is still likely to be the year with smallest LNG import growth in a decade.

Qatar remained the top supplier with about 28.67% of the total shipments into Taiwan, despite a minor drop in total volume and market share. Australia was quickly catching up, taking 26.42% of the total, up from last year's share of 15.16%.

Power generation sector consumed about 78% of Taiwan's LNG imports, with state-controlled Taipower the dominant player and single biggest consumer of the fuel.

Taipower's LNG consumption averaged about 808,000 mt/month during January-October 2019, according to Bureau of Energy data, compared with about 870,000 mt/month in the whole of 2018. The January-October 2019 monthly average represented nearly one cargo equivalent less consumption per month.

Even though strict environmental regulations toward the end of 2019 might modestly lift Taipower's LNG consumption to compensate the loss of coal-powered generation, it was unlikely to offset the fall between the first ten months of the year.

Consumption at independent power generation companies was about 226,000 mt/month in January-October 2019, a minor increase from about 220,000 mt/month in the whole of 2018.

State-controlled CPC Corp. owns all of Taiwan's gas terminals, transmission systems, as well as storage facilities, and is the sole LNG importer in Taiwan.

Taiwanese government set a target of generating 50% electricity from gas by 2025. This would require Taipower to increase LNG intake significantly.

CPC has planned its third LNG receiving terminal in North Taiwan's Taoyuan, while Taipower has planned two of its own receiving terminals in Taichung and Hsieh-ho in North Taiwan.