Japan’s LNG imports in October declined 22.1% year on year and 14.5% from the previous month to 4.63 million mt, according to the latest Ministry of Finance data, reports Platts.
During January-October, however, LNG shipments were up 1.1% from the year-ago period, according to the latest data.
Lowest monthly imports
Japan’s monthly imports in October were the lowest for the October month since 2005 due to higher imported volumes in earlier months in preparation for the winter, according to the November report by Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp., or JOGMEC.
October imports were in place before supply issues in Malaysia and Australia started to tighten market balances, and Japanese importers have since raised concerns about the need to tap into spot markets.
October LNG imports from top supplier Australia fell 11.4% from a year earlier and were down 7.4% from September at 2.02 million mt, the data showed.
Shipments from Qatar also fell 27.1% from a year earlier to 683,000 mt, but imports from the US jumped 55.7% year on year to 309,000 mt.
Spot LNG cargoes
The average price of spot LNG cargoes for delivery to Japan contracted in October 2021 and scheduled to be delivered from the month onward was $26.5/MMBtu, according to JOGMEC.
As of Nov. 15, Japan’s major power utilities held 2.2 million mt of LNG stocks, up by about 600,000 mt from a year ago, after declining 16% month on month at the end of October because of an increase in power demand in October, according to documents presented at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s electricity and gas policy subcommittee Nov. 18.
The end-October LNG inventories stood at 2.07 million mt, still above the highest level in the last five years, down from 2.46 million mt at end-September, the documents showed.
Crude oil price
The Japan Customs Cleared crude oil price was $76.813/b in October, up 4.1% from $73.809/b in September. Japan’s long-term LNG contracts are linked to the JCC crude price, but with a lag of a few months, so fluctuations in oil prices usually take some time to be reflected in LNG prices.
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