Buying from each of the world’s top five LNG importers, all in Asia, has risen strongly this year, soaking up rising output. But with the key import hike coming from China, a highly price-sensitive market, prices will remain under pressure as more liquefaction capacity starts up.

Collective purchases by Japan, South Korea, China, India and Taiwan are up 13.1% or 14.7mn tons year-on-year to 126.7mn tons for January-August 2017 (see chart). This puts volumes on track to smash...