Global LNG continues to grow despite the crisis

The current geopolitical situation has favoured the development of new liquefaction projects as well as the growth of existing LNG export markets, according to the IGU World LNG report released in July 2022.

Global LNG trade in 2021 and early 2022

Global LNG trade grew by 4.5%, to a record 372.3 million tonnes (MT) in 2021. Indeed, the strong post-pandemic recovery resulted in a surge in LNG imports. Nevertheless, it should be noted that this annual growth rate is still well below that observed before COVID-19, which was 13% between 2018 and 2019.


As of April 2022, the global LNG trade connected 19 exporting markets with 40 importing markets, according to the International Gas Union (IGU).

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to impact global gas supplies. In 2021, Russia contributed 8% of global LNG exports, of which 43.9% were shipped to Europe, while

the remaining 56.1% were shipped to Asia Pacific and Asia. With the European Union committed to eliminating energy imports from Russia by 2027, the growth of existing LNG export markets, such as the United States and Qatar, and the development of new markets, such as the growing Africa, are important avenues to diversify energy sources and support European energy security.


LNG exports in 2021

The growth in exports was mainly driven by the United States (+22.3MT, +49.8%), Egypt (+5.2 MT, +391.2%) and Algeria (+1.2 MT, +11.4%). Australia remained the largest LNG exporter in 2021, exporting 78.5 MT in 2021 vs. 77.8 MT in 2020. The most significant drops in export levels were seen in Nigeria (-4.1 MT), Trinidad & Tobago (-3.9 MT), Norway (-2.9 MT) and Peru (-1.2 MT).


LNG imports in 2021

In 2021, the Asia Pacific region continued to be the largest importing region with net imports of 155.7 MT, marking an increase of 8.6 MT compared to 2020. China overtook Japan as the largest LNG importer, increasing its net imports from 68.9 MT in 2020 to 79.3 MT in 2021.


Top 10 LNG exporters and importers by market in million tonnes (MT) in 2021


Top 10 Exporters in 2021


Top 10 Importers in 2021




78.5 MT


79.3 MT 



77.2 MT 


74.3 MT 



67 MT 

South Korea

46.9 MT 



29.7 MT


24 MT 



24.9 MT

Chinese Taipei

19.4 MT 



16.4 MT


13.8 MT 



13.8 MT


12.3 MT 



11.8 MT 


11.3 MT



10.2 MT 


10.2 MT 


Papua New Guinea

8.3 MT


8.2 MT


LNG liquefaction capacity in 2021 and early 2022

Global liquefaction capacity grew in 2021, yet at a significantly slower pace than in 2020. 6.9 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of liquefaction capacity was brought online, leading global liquefaction capacity up to 459.9 MTPA by the end of the year. An additional 12.5 MTPA of liquefaction capacity was brought online during the first four months of 2022, bringing the total global liquefaction capacity to 472.4 MTPA.


As of April 2022, 136.2 MTPA of liquefaction capacity was under construction or approved for development. However, only 7.7 MTPA is expected to come online in the second half of 2022. The rest will gradually come in between 2023 and 2027.


The current geopolitical situation has spurred the need for new liquefaction project development. However, access to financing is proving to be challenging, as financial institutions increasingly favour clean energy over fossil fuel investments. Therefore, new liquefaction plants must be increasingly innovative in a context of decarbonisation, relying on solutions to further reduce emissions in the liquefaction process and the rest of the LNG value chain.


Global regasification capacity in 2021 and early 2022

Global regasification capacity increased by +49.8 MTPA in 2021, and by a further +4.3 MTPA in the first four months of 2022. As of April 2022, global regasification capacity had reached 901.9 MTPA. In 2021, five new regasification terminals started commercial operations in Indonesia, Croatia, Turkey, Kuwait and Mexico, adding 23.6 MTPA of regasification capacity. Meanwhile, China and Japan expanded the regasification capacity of existing facilities.


LNG carriers in 2021 and early 2022

There were 641 active LNG vessels at the end of April 2022, including 45 floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) and five floating storage units (FSUs). The global fleet grew by 9.9% with the delivery of 57 carriers and four FSRUs in 2021.



The full report is available for download on the IGU website.