Chinese LNG imports are on track to set an annual record this year due to strong policy support, with January and February imports averaging more than 4 million tonnes per month, according to the consultancy Poten & Partners.
LNG imports hit a record 5.18 million tonnes in January, 51% higher than the same month last year. Official data for February shows that China imported 3.99 million tonnes in February.
Based on this data, Chinese LNG demand November through February would have increased by 50% to 18.26 million tonnes, the consultancy noted in a report issued last week.
To remind, in the meantime, official customs data showed that China imported 3.25 million tonnes of LNG in March, up 64.2 percent from March 2017.
“In a typical year since China imported its first LNG in 2006, state-owned terminal operators would be told to ensure adequate LNG supply during the winter – November through February – because China relied on it for gas supply security during its peak energy demand,” Poten said.
However, this was the first year operators have been officially ordered to guarantee sufficient LNG supply throughout the year, Poten said citing industry sources.
Coal-to-gas switching policies put in place last year would continue to be enforced throughout North China this year, and there is room for more conversions to be completed, especially in Hebei province, according to the consultancy.
On the infrastructure side, new terminals to be commissioned this year in China include Sinopec’s Tianjin, CNOOC’s Shenzhen Diefu, ENN’s Zhoushan and Shenzhen Gas’s small-scale facility, while CNOOC Tianjin could complete a 160,000-m3 storage tank this coming winter, Poten said.