China’s natural gas imports ballooned to a record high of about 90.4 million metric tons in 2018, registering an increase of 31.9 percent year-on-year, shows data from the General Administration of Customs.
It is also showed that main suppliers of China’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports are Qatar, Australia and ASEAN countries, and main exporters of natural gas in the gaseous state are Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
The four years between 2013 and 2017 has seen an increase rate of 249.31 percent in China’s natural gas imports. In 2017, the imports surged by about 26.9 percent year-on-year, hitting about 68.6 million metric tons.
The increase was mainly driven by LNG. There is growing enthusiasm for LGN terminal construction, and more players are exploring the market, which can also contribute to improving the efficiency of LNG terminals. By the end of 2018, China had totally 19 terminals constructed across its land, as north as Liaoning, as south as Hainan.
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Recent years have seen rapidly growing demand of natural gas in different parts of the world, among which, China and India are the two fastest growing consumers, especially of LNG.
LNG imports constitutes an essential part of China’s natural gas imports. In 2017, China surpassed South Korea to become world’s second largest LNG importer, while Japan took the first place. China is expected to take the first place in 2019, according to National Energy Administration.
The surge is mainly due to the reason that domestic production cannot satisfy the growing demand. The three main driving forces of demand growth come from power generation, industrial gas and urban gas, claiming 18 percent, 33 percent and 39 percent of total consumption respectively. Gas for chemical use took a smaller share of about 10 percent.
There is also a seasonal change when winter comes and necessitates switching on heating systems for north part of the country. For example, Sinopec, China’s largest geothermal developer, is pumping about 130 million cubic meters of natural gas every day, aiming to deal with the peak need during winter season. It is estimated that the company needs to pump a total of 18.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas during the heating period, up 17.7 percent compared with 2017.
The country’s LNG imports projection for 2023 could reach about 171 billion cubic meters, mostly LNG. And natural gas’s share in the energy mix is expected to double by 2030, and gas prices will grow to be more market-oriented, letting supply and demand dynamics do its work.