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Asia Slashes Russian LNG Imports To Two-Year Low

Major LNG buyers in North Asia have slashed imports of liquefied natural gas from Russian export projects to the lowest in two years as the world’s top LNG importers look to diversify supply amid ample current supply.

In June, Asian imports of LNG from Russia slumped by 15% to the lowest levels since August 2021, shipping data compiled by Bloomberg showed on Wednesday. 

China, which has been buying record volumes of crude oil from Russia, has recently slashed LNG purchases from Russian export plants. Chinese LNG imports from Russia halved in June compared to May, to the lowest level in 11 months, according to the shipping data compiled by Bloomberg.

South Korean utilities are not buying Russian spot LNG cargoes currently, while at least two Japanese utilities want LNG supply from Russia reduced, sources familiar with the matter have told Bloomberg.

Russia’s natural gas and LNG exports are not subject to any embargoes or restrictions, but buyers are looking to diversify and avoid potential future problems with payments and deliveries, according to Bloomberg.

Japan and South Korea have renewed some of their long-term LNG supply deals with Russia. Most long-term LNG buyers of the Sakhalin-2 project, including from Japan and South Korea, have continued to buy gas from the venture, even though Western majors quit en masse operations in Russia after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co doesn’t plan to exit its minority shareholding in the Sakhalin-2 LNG project in Russia as the export facility continues to export liquefied natural gas to Japan, Mitsui’s senior executive managing officer, Toru Matsui, said at the company’s annual general meeting last month.

While North Asia is scaling back LNG purchases from Russia, Spain’s imports of natural gas from Russia more than doubled in May compared to a year earlier and Russia accounted for 27.9% of Spain’s gas imports, second only to Algeria.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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