India's October LNG imports surge as demand rebounds to pre-Covid levels

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Indian imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) surged in October, shiptracking data from Refinitiv Eikon and data intelligence firm Kpler showed, as the country’s gas demand bounced back to pre-COVID levels.

LNG shipments to India in October rose to about 2.5 million tonnes, the highest monthly volumes on its record, Refiniv Eikon data showed.

Kpler pegged October arrivals at the second highest on record at 2.75 million tonnes, just under February’s imports of 2.79 million tonnes.

“City gas, gas-based power sector as well as revival from other sectors is boosting LNG imports into the country,” an India-based gas importer told Reuters.

“We are already back to pre-Covid levels with additional demand being seen from city gas and power sectors.”

Spot gas imports by the electricity generation sector, which account for over a fifth of India’s total consumption of the fuel, doubled in the June quarter to the highest in at least 14 quarters.

India’s natural gas prices fell to their lowest since 2014 for the October-March 2021 period which meant reduced costs for gas for fertilisers, automobiles and households.

Asian LNG spot prices had also until recently been near record lows, which boosted appetite for imports of the super-chilled fuel, traders said, adding that this could slow from December, however, with spot prices rebounding to a more than one-year high.

India has also been receiving at least one LNG cargo a month from Russia’s Yamal LNG plant since September, this year, after the last such flow was seen only in March, Refinitiv data showed. LNG shipments from Oman to India in October were also at a record high, the data showed.

The South Asian country’s factory activity expanded at its fastest pace in over a decade in October as demand and output continued to recover strongly from coronavirus-related disruptions, in turn boosting gas demand.

Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise