China’s LNG imports to hit record high

For illustration only (Image courtesy of Sinopec)

China, the world’s largest energy consumer, is reportedly set to import record levels of liquefied natural gas (LNG) this month.

According to a report by Reuters, China is expected to import about 3.33 million tonnes of LNG in December spurred by winter demand, boosting Asian prices to their highest in nearly two years.

This would easily top the record 2.66 million tonnes that landed in China in November as a cold snap across the north of the country spurred demand, the report said.

China is expected to import ten cargoes of the chilled fuel from the world’s top LNG exporter, Qatar in December as the pace from Australia slows due to the outage at Chevron’s giant Gorgon LNG plant on Barrow Island.

The report suggests that the country’s LNG imports rose this year due to due to growing use of long-term contracts by oil and gas majors CNPC, PetroChina, Sinopec and CNOOC.

The buying spree may also boost Asian LNG prices. They are currently at $9.30 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), the highest since January 2015 and more than double levels in April, the report said.

China’s imports have already surpassed the 20 million tonnes figure this year, according to the General Administration of Customs data.

The country imported 22.3 million tonnes in the January-November period. This compares to 19.63 million tonnes for the whole year of 2015.

China started importing LNG in 2006 and is currently the world’s third largest LNG importer– representing about 8% of global LNG imports in 2015.

The country’s LNG imports are expected to significantly rise in the next five years as it as it is seeking to cut its addiction to coal to reduce pollution.

 

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