Japan's 2021 LNG imports slip, gives up world's top buyer spot to China

A liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker is tugged towards a thermal power station in Futtsu, east of Tokyo, Japan November 13, 2017. Picture taken November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Japan's imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) fell 0.2% in 2021 to 74.32 million tonnes, giving up the world's largest buyer spot to China which increased its imports of the super-chilled fuel by 18% to a record high.

Japan's imports of the fuel dropped for a fourth straight year to the lowest since 2010, the year before the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster which sent gas purchases soaring as reactors were shut down, preliminary data released by the finance ministry showed.

China's imports of LNG for the whole last year totalled a record 78.93 million tonnes, according to the customs data. read more

Japan's imports of crude oil fell for a ninth straight year in 2021 to the lowest in more than 50 years amid a shrinking, aging population that consumes less fuel because of more efficient vehicles and a turn to gasoline-electric hybrids.

Crude imports into Japan dropped 1.2% in 2021 to 2.5 million barrels a day (144.31 million kilolitres for the year).

That was the lowest since 1968, according to an official at the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ).

Meanwhile, imports of thermal coal rose last year after three years of declines as the country continues rolling out new power stations burning the dirty fossil fuel.

Coal imports climbed 7.7% in 2021 to 112.9 million tonnes despite of higher installation of renewable power.

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Kim Coghill

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