Singapore — Global spot trade of LNG expanded last year, driven by a ramp-up in US and Russian supplies and the rise of volumes being handled by aggregators and traders, according to a report by the International Group of LNG Importers published on Monday.
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Spot LNG volumes, defined as being delivered within 90 days of the transaction date, hit 78.7 million mt in 2018, making up around 25% of total LNG imports globally, compared with 20% in 2017, according GIIGNL.
China, South Korea and Japan together absorbed some 52% of spot volumes last year, or 41 million mt, while the US, Australia and Qatar were the largest spot suppliers.
"With several trains due to come on-stream in the US over the next two years, the additions of destination-free and non-oil indexed volumes will be substantial, and further enhance the liquidity of the LNG market," GIIGNL president Jean-Marie Douger said.
Meanwhile, long-term contracting activity also increased, with 24 new contracts signed in 2018 for a contractual length of at least 10 years, a sign that security of supply remains a strong motivation for LNG importers and aggregators.
"For LNG importers, long-term partnerships, destination and volume flexibility as well as the ability to optimize, or arbitrage, between Asian and European markets remain key," Douger said.
Overall LNG imports grew by 8.3% to 313.8 million mt in 2018, largely driven by China and South Korea, the world's second and third largest importers, respectively, which together received 21 million mt more LNG than in 2017. Japan remained the leading importing country with 82.5 million mt, followed by China with 54 million mt.
Inversely, the combined LNG imports by emerging markets decreased last year, mainly due to rising domestic production in Egypt and in Argentina, and infrastructure delays in new emerging Asian markets.
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