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U.S. LNG Exports To Asia Surged By 67% In 2020

U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas to Asia surged by 67 percent in 2020 as total LNG exports out of the United States jumped by 32 percent despite the record-low demand and prices last summer due to the pandemic, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Monday.

The relatively high export levels from January to May and the rebound in exports in the latter part of last year more than offset the record low export volumes from the summer of 2020, when global demand and global LNG prices were very low.   

In two consecutive months, November and December 2020, the U.S. set new records of LNG export volumes. The U.S. exported 9.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of LNG in November 2020 and then smashed that record in the following month when LNG exports averaged 9.8 billion Bcf/d in December, EIA data has shown.

Total U.S. exports of LNG thus continued to march higher in 2020 despite the pandemic and averaged 6.6 Bcf/d on an annual basis, up by 32 percent compared to 2019.

American LNG exports to Asia surged by 67 percent last year, and accounted for nearly half—or 3.1 Bcf/d—of all LNG exports out of the United States, according to EIA data.  

The key driver of the surge in U.S. exports to Asia was China, which significantly boosted its imports of American LNG after lowering its tariffs on imports of U.S. LNG to 10 percent from 25 percent. When tariffs were 25 percent in 2019, just two cargoes of LNG were shipped from the United States to China, the EIA said.

India and Japan also boosted imports of U.S. LNG. India took advantage of the record low LNG prices in the spring and summer of 2020 to stock up on American LNG, while Japan increased its imports from the U.S. in the last quarter of 2020, thanks to high seasonal winter demand and new long-term supply contracts.

U.S. LNG exports to Europe also rose last year by 0.6 Bcf/d to average 2.5 Bcf/d. Exports increased to Turkey, the UK, Spain, Greece, and Lithuania, according to EIA data.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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