Photo: Qatargas.

By Peter Meller

The world’s largest LNG importer has sent its surplus gas to the EU. The gas tankers are on their way. Deliveries will be continued in March.


“In order to reach their European destination in February, several ships have set sail for Europe, carrying LNG that Japanese companies can sell at their discretion,” Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda told reporters on Wednesday.

The minister added that there were plans to send more gas tankers to Europe in March. At the same time, he stressed that in terms of LNG supplies to the Union, which is facing an “acute gas shortage”, Japan’s energy security is and will be the top priority.

The minister noted that on Wednesday he held meetings with US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel and EU Ambassador to Japan Patricia Flor. They discussed the current situation with gas shortages in the Union, TASS news agency reported.

Hagiuda told the diplomats that the Japanese government had decided to provide support to European countries, but stressed that his country’s energy security would remain a priority.

He added that February was also a rather difficult month in Japan in terms of LNG consumption. Hagiuda did not disclose specific amounts of gas that Japan was sending to the EU market, but once again stressed that the supplies would not affect the daily lives of Japanese people.

According to Kiodo agency, Japan will send “several hundred thousand tonnes of LNG” to the Union in March. Earlier, the Nikkei newspaper wrote that LNG stocks in the tanks of Japanese energy companies are now about 10 per cent higher than last year and that these quantities could be used for emergency supplies to the Community in the event of armed conflict in Ukraine.

As of 30 January, there were 1.67 million tonnes of LNG in storage in Japan. In addition to using some of these reserves, Japanese energy companies have the logistical capacity to arrange for LNG to be delivered to the Union directly from shale gas fields in northern America.

Japan is the largest importer of LNG in the world. In 2020, it purchased around 74.5 million tonnes of LNG. The largest suppliers of gas to the Japanese market are Australia, Malaysia and Qatar. These three countries account for 65 per cent of Japanese imports. About 8 per cent comes from Russia and 6 per cent from the US.