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US LNG imports to Europe more than tripled in the first 4 months of 2022

During the first four months of 2022, the United States exported 74 per cent of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe, compared with an annual average of 34 per cent last year, according to the recently released Natural Gas Monthly and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates for April 2022.

In 2020 and 2021, Asia had been the main destination for US LNG exports, accounting for almost half of the total exports.

Source: EIA

US LNG exports averaged 11.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) during the first four months of 2022, an 18 per cent increase compared with the 2021 annual average.

EIA says that the increase was driven by additional export capacity at Sabine Pass (Train 6) and Calcasieu Pass (first five blocks) that came online this year and by high LNG demand, particularly in Europe.

Since December 2021, the EU and the United Kingdom have been importing record-high levels of LNG, primarily because of low natural gas storage inventories.

“High spot natural gas prices at the European trading hubs incentivised global LNG market participants with destination flexibility in their contracts to deliver more LNG supplies to Europe,” EIA explains adding that additional LNG imports in Europe and a mild winter offset lower natural gas pipeline imports from Russia.

The United States became the largest LNG supplier to the EU and United Kingdom in 2021, accounting for 26 per cent of total imports. In the first four months of 2022, US LNG imports to the EU and the United Kingdom have more than tripled, compared with 2021, averaging 7.3 Bcf/d and accounting for 49 per cent of total imports, according to data from CEDIGAZ. LNG imports from Russia and Qatar accounted for 14 per cent each (2.1 Bcf/d).

Meanwhile, during the first four months of 2022, US LNG exports to Asia declined by 51 per cent, averaging 2.3 Bcf/d compared with 4.6 Bcf/d (annual average) in 2021. China and South Korea were top destinations for US LNG in 2021.

This year, however, China received only six LNG cargoes from the United States in January–April 2022 (0.2 Bcf/d, compared with 1.2 Bcf/d in 2021) as pandemic-related lockdown measures, as well as a mild winter and high LNG spot prices, reduced demand for spot LNG imports. US LNG exports to South Korea and Japan also declined by 0.6 Bcf/d and 0.5 Bcf/d, respectively.

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