China overtakes Japan as world’s largest LNG importer

Alex Froley


LONDON (ICIS)–China has become the world’s largest LNG importer, overtaking Japan to claim the top spot, according to data from ICIS LNG Edge.

The title changes hands as China’s LNG demand continues to grow rapidly, while Japan’s gas demand for gas-fired power generation has slipped back with the restart of nuclear power plants.

For the 12 months from July 2020 to June 2021 ship-tracking data from ICIS LNG Edge shows that China imported 77.4m tonnes, compared with 77.1m tonnes for Japan.

This marks the first time that China has overtaken Japan for a 12-month period. China’s imports have already overtaken Japan in various individual months.

China had already overtaken South Korea to become the world’s second-largest LNG importer as long ago as September 2017, based on figures for imports from October 2016 to September 2017.

China was also already a larger consumer of natural gas overall than Japan.

China also produces its own gas and imports via pipelines, whereas Japan receives all its gas in the form of LNG.

With China continuing to grow, the country is expected to retain its top spot over coming months.


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