Global liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports increased 9.9% in 2017 to 289.8 million tons, the highest annual growth rate since 2010, according to the latest annual report by the International Association of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL).

Despite several delayed start-ups, new liquefaction capacity continued to come online in various areas of the world ranging from the U.S. to Australia, Malaysia and Russia, leading to a 26.2 million-ton-per-year increase in LNG supply compared with 2016, according to the report.

Industrial Info is tracking more than $769 billion in active LNG liquefaction and production projects, which are in various stages of development. Industrial Info assesses the likelihood of each project moving forward as planned.

The main additions to the LNG supply last year came from Australia and the U.S., where production from trains commissioned in 2016 continued to ramp up, and five new liquefaction trains started up in 2017, according to the GIIGNL report.

Malaysia's Floating LNG Satu, the world's first floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project, also began producing during the year.

The current contracting and pricing environment is challenging for new supply developments, according to the report. While two financial investment decisions were made in 2016, only one project, the 3.4 million-ton-per-year Coral FLNG in Mozambique, was sanctioned last year.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. is expected to add 6.05 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of new liquefaction capacity by 2021, in addition to 3.5 Bcf/d already in operation at Cheniere Energy Incorporated's (NYSE:LNG) (Houston, Texas) Sabine Pass facility in Louisiana and Dominion Energy Incorporated's (NYSE:D) (Richmond, Virginia) Cove Point facility in Maryland. New trains in Cameron, Louisiana, and Elba Island, Georgia, along with Freeport and Corpus Christi in Texas, are expected to be commissioned in the next three years.

On the demand side, the LNG market is becoming more diverse and complex, with 40 countries now importing LNG, the report continued. Most of the demand growth occurred in Asia, where LNG imports grew by 19.6 million tons. China overtook South Korea last year as the world's second-largest importer, due to China's move away from coal in order to reduce air pollution.

GIIGNL includes 78 companies worldwide, comprising nearly all companies active in LNG imports or in the operation of LNG terminals.

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