Japan hikes LNG dependence on Middle East

Japan's liquefied natural gas imports fell 4.8% on year to 7.74 million tonnes in March, according to the customs data.
The country's LNG imports have decreased on year consecutively after recorded the historical high at 8.23 million tonnes in January. While total imports have shrunk, dependence on the Middle East is rising.

Japanese power utilities have reduced LNG consumption for thermal power compared to the previous year level in the first three months of this year due to users power saving and relatively warm weather.
Electricity supply by Tokyo Electric Power Company during the first 20 days in April was 3.6% lower from a year ago, therefore its LNG consumption in this month is also likely to be less than a year earlier.

 LNG storage capacity in Japan was added more than a million kilometers or about 700,000 tonnes. But it is not enough to keep sufficient room when demand is decreasing. Japan is importing more than 7 million tonnes per month of LNG, it is near the physical limit of unloading. So Japanese importers have to cut purchase immediately in order to avoid overflow of the storage.

Japan had bought LNG from 15 countries and areas before 2011, suppliers were increased to 21 countries in 2012 but shrunk to 15 again in this year.
Spot purchase from variety sources seems to be decreased, while imports from Qatar are increasing.

Japan's LNG dependence on the Persian Gulf nations rose to the record high of 28% in February. Imports from Qatar which has sufficient LNG supply capacity seems to be cost-competitive than gathering spot cargoes from all over the world. However, higher dependence both in petroleum and natural gas to the Middle East is not good for Japan's energy security.

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