Despite being under a nationwide lockdown for a week in March, India imported 2,868M standard cubic metres (mmscm) of LNG during the month, a 20% increase year-on-year
LNG imports in March 2019 were 2,382 mmscm. During March, some 4,299 mmscm of natural gas was used in India, with the fertilizer industry being the largest consumer (30%), followed by city gas distribution (18%), refinery (17%), power (16%) and petrochemicals (7%). Total natural gas available for sale in the month was 4,688 mmscm, a slight rise of 1.9% year-on-year.
Gross domestic production of natural gas for March 2020 was 2,411 mmscm, a decrease of 14.4% over March 2019, according to India oil ministry data.
As domestic natural gas production has fallen off, LNG has become an increasing important component to meeting the country’s gas needs. Government data shows regasified LNG supplied 62% of the gas demand of the domestic fertilizer industry, about 52% of city gas, 21% of power generation, 87% of refinery, 92% of petrochemical and 56% ‘other’.
The rise in LNG imports in March follows a strong showing in February when LNG imports jumped 68% year-on-year as gas-buying opportunists took advantage of low gas spot prices.
Overall, LNG imports of 33,680 mmscm for fiscal period FY2019-2020 was 17.2% higher than FY2018-2019 when imports reached 28,740 mmscm.
LNG demand in India was expected to reach 25 mta in 2020 under a base case scenario, according to Poten & Partners short-term forecasting manager Kristine Holmquist in a recent podcast. However, Covid-19 demand destruction could well send the country’s demand to 23 mta, lower than 2019 levels. Ms Holmquist said LNG demand would recover in 2021 and 2022, but not to the base-case levels Poten & Partners had previously forecast.
LNG import numbers for April are expected to be lower, reflecting the huge demand drop with the country in full lockdown during the month. GSPC, GAIL and Petronet LNG also made force majeure declarations on cargoes.
India has extended its countrywide lockdown due to Covid-19 until 18 May. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the government-imposed lockdown on 24 March, asking the country’s population of 1.3Bn to shelter indoors, with no domestic or international air travel and suspension of passenger train and interstate bus transportation.
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