The South China Sea is a major route for LNG trade, and in 2016, almost 40 percent of global LNG trade, or about 4.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), passed through the South China Sea.
The two LNG exporters Malaysia and Qatar collectively accounted for more than 60 percent of total South China Sea LNG volumes in 2016. Almost half of Qatar’s global LNG shipments traveled through the South China Sea in 2016. All of Malaysia’s LNG exports pass through the South China Sea, as the country’s one LNG export complex lies on the South China Sea coast.
Several other LNG exporters also use South China Sea trade routes to reach LNG importers. In 2016, Oman, Brunei, and the United Arab Emirates shipped between 84 percent and 100 percent of their total LNG exports through the South China Sea.
Other LNG exporters in the region, such as Australia and Indonesia, make more use of other trade routes to reach LNG markets. In 2016, about 23 percent of total Australian LNG exports and about 29 percent of Indonesian LNG exports were shipped by way of the South China Sea. Much of the remainder of Australia’s and Indonesia’s LNG exports passed to the east of the Philippines and Taiwan, avoiding the South China Sea on the way to customers in Japan, South Korea, and northern China.