India’s push to develop natural gas infrastructure is transforming the country into a force in Asia, home to around two-thirds of global demand.
India is projected to drive capacity in Asia and Oceania’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification industry from new-build projects between 2019 and 2023, contributing around 35% of total growth, according to a ReportLinker study.
The country’s new regasification capacity is expected to grow to 3,209 Bcf in 2023 from 730.5 Bcf in 2019,. Planned terminals are expected to contribute 1,784.6 Bcf of capacity, while early-stage projects could add 1,424.5 Bcf. A total of 17 new terminals are expected to contribute LNG regasification capacity growth in India during the outlook period.
China, currently the world’s second largest importer after Japan, is forecast to have the second highest regasification capacity growth in Asia and Oceania in 2023. Around 58% is expected to come from four early-stage announced projects, while the remaining 42% would come from four planned terminals.
India’s increased LNG development shows how dynamics for the fuel in Asia are shifting. Demand growth from top gas importer Japan is projected to remain flat and then gradually begin to decline. Demand growth in South Korea, the world’s third largest LNG importer, is also projected to remain flat, while Taiwan is projected to see demand growth for the fuel increase starting next decade.
Japan’s LNG demand growth will flatten out then slowly decline because of a steady return of its nuclear power production fleet. Nine nuclear power plants have come back online in Japan as of this year, with 14 more expected in the next few years.
Gas prices have trended upward in recent weeks in anticipation of the winter season when LNG demand historically increases in the northern hemisphere, but are still off considerably from this time last year.
Japan, however, will increasingly become a major secondary trader of the fuel, mostly through Jera, the world’s largest buyer, and larger utilities like Tokyo Gas and Osaka Gas, for both spot and shorter term deals. Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Isshu Sugawara said last month $10 billion would be invested in LNG projects. By the mid 2020s, however, Japan is projected to lose its top LNG importer slot to China.
South Korea offers a more complicated scenario. The government wants to increase the share of gas in its energy mix from 17% in 2017 to 19% by 2030, while targeting renewable energy to increase from 5-20%. Taiwan, because of increased electricity demand, plans to increase the share of LNG in its energy mix to 50% from 38%.
The main story, however, will still be China. “In the next five years, about one-third of global LNG demand will come from China alone,” International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol said in July. Increased LNG demand will also come from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines as these countries grapple with gas reserve depletion.