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Japan, South Korea , China, East Asia and the world’s largest buyers of LNG all took lower volumes last year.
Buying fell by a collective 7mn tons or almost 5% (see graph 1) amid lacklustre demand. Even if demand stabilizes this year – by no means a foregone conclusion – a pipeline of new supply coming onstream, from Australia and the US in particular, means that for Middle East producers, starting with Qatar, the competition is becoming increasingly palpable.
JAPAN: NUCLEAR RESTARTS
Japan notched up three straight years of record 87mn tons-plus LNG imports following 2011’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, which led to the shut in of the country’s entire nuclear fleet. However plants finally began to restart last year, leading to a 4% fall in the country’s LNG imports (see p17 for full data). In this perspective, its LNG outlook is comparable to that of South Korea, which imported almost 9% less LNG in 2015 annually, or 33.37mn tons, the lowest level since 2010 (MEES, 22 January).
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