China set to top Japan as world's biggest natural gas importer

reuters.com Import & Export 2018-01-03 14:29:00

Beijing's crackdown on pollution has put China on track to overtake Japan this year as the world's biggest importer of natural gas, used to replace dirtier coal.

 

China - already the biggest importer of oil and coal - is the world's third biggest user of natural gas behind the United States and Russia, but has to import around 40% of its total needs as domestic production can't keep up with demand.

 

Data compiled from the Thomson Reuters Eikon terminal indicates China's 2017 imports of pipeline gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) will top 67 million tonnes, up by more than a quarter from a year earlier. LNG imports alone surged more than 50%.

 

The data, which includes LNG tanker arrivals to China and pipeline monthly import flow estimates, is preliminary as December figures are not yet available.

 

China still lags Japan, with gas annual imports of around 83.5 million tonnes, all as LNG, but its overall gas imports topped Japan's in September and again in November, government data and shipping flows show.

 

Analysts say the trend is set and China should top Japan for the full year in 2018.

 

"Both LNG and pipeline imports will continue to increase in the next few years. We expect China to overtake Japan as the world's largest gas importer in 2018," said Miaoru Huang, Asia gas and LNG senior manager at energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

 

"But Japan will remain as the No.1 LNG importer till around 2028," she added.

 

China last year started to move millions of households and many industrial facilities from coal to gas as part of efforts to clean its skies, sparking an unprecedented rally in overseas import orders.

 

China's three biggest LNG suppliers are Australia, Qatar and Malaysia, while pipeline imports come from Central Asia and Myanmar. A pipeline connecting China to Russia is under construction.

 

Unlike established LNG importers which import the bulk of their cargoes under long-term contracts with fixed monthly volumes and a link to the oil market, many Chinese utilities buy LNG in the spot market when they need it at short notice, such as the current peak demand winter season.

 

As a result, Asian spot LNG prices have more than doubled since June to $11.20 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), their highest since November 2014, making LNG one of 2017's strongest performing commodities.

 

China's surging demand already pushed it past South Korea in 2017 as the world's number 2 LNG importer.

 


(Writing by William Gao  Editing by Jessie Jia)
For any questions, please contact us by inqury@fwenergy.com or +86-351-7219322.

Share this article
Connect with us

Editors Recommendations

1 China Coal Daily Track (Jun 21) 2018-06-21

Thermal coal Domestic market Coal mines in Yulin, Shaanxi province expected another increase in the short run as purchase was active recently from buyers in Hebei, Shandong and Shanxi. Imp

2 China's top 3 provinces contribute 68% of raw coal output in Jan-May 2018-06-21

Northern China's Inner Mongolia, Shanxi and Shaanxi produced 67.94% of the country's total raw coal in the first five months, showed data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). NBS

3 CMPort concludes trade of 50% stake in Newcastle port 2018-06-21

China Merchants Port Holdings(CMPort) has taken over 50% stake in the Newcastle port at AU$607.5 million ($457.5 million) from its parent China Merchants Group on June 14, the company announced on its

4 Chinese central SOEs' profit growth accelerates in Jan-May 2018-06-21

Profit growth of China's central state-owned enterprises (SOEs) picked up pace over January-May period this year, thanks to the deepened enterprise reform and resolve in initiative and sustainable dev

5 Hubei power plants receive 3.6 Mt coal in May, up 12% MoM 2018-06-21

Central China's Hubei province saw its unified dispatch power plants receive a total of 3.62 million tonnes of coal in May from local mines and other provinces, showed data from its provincial economi

6 Sentiment fluctuation pares thermal coal trades at China's N ports 2018-06-21

China's domestic thermal coal market saw bearish and bullish sentiments both growing in recent days, rendering traders unable to judge the market trend but stay on the sidelines. Spot pri

7 S. Korea May met. coal imports down 14.2% YoY 2018-06-21

South Korea imported 2.35 million tonnes of metallurgical coal (including coking coal and PCI coal) in May, dropping 14.18% year on year and down 13.9% from the preceding month, according to the lates

8 S. Korea May thermal coal imports decrease 20% MoM 2018-06-21

South Korea's thermal coal imports (including bituminous and sub-bituminous coal) reached 8.24 million tonnes in May, down 20.61% from a month ago yet up 4.89% year on year, the latest South Korea

9 China's rail cargo shipment hits new high in May 2018-06-21

China shipped a total 338.84 million tonnes of cargoes via railways in May, rising 11.8% from the year prior, hitting a new high since this year, said China Railway Corporation on June 20.

10 Chinese govt relaxes coal import curbs to prepare for summer high demand 2018-06-21

The Chinese government has reduced restrictions on coal imports at some southern and eastern ports on concerns about higher prices and regional power shortages, as demand for electricity jumps during

Most Read Articles

1 China's major coal miners vow to ensure supply and stabilize prices 2018-06-12

While CHN Energy announced late last week to lower their June contract coal price within the "yellow range" below 600 yuan/t, more major miners have promised to lower prices to ensure adequate supply

2 Major Chinese miners work to stabilize thermal coal prices 2018-06-11

Some leading miners in China made price adjustments in response to government's call for stabilizing thermal coal price and supply, sources said. China Energy Investment Cor

3 China to launch broader environmental inspections this month 2018-06-11

China will expand environmental inspections to more cities and regions in a new round of checks from this month to April next year, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) said in a statement on

4 China's raw coal output rises to a new high in May 2018-06-14

China's raw coal production registered a new high in May since this year, according to official data, as miners churned out the material driven mainly by tempting profit and rallying prices.

5 China proceeds development of coal-to-oil conversion 2018-06-15

China is developing new energy sources by converting coal into diesel. The world's first coal to diesel conversion production line, in China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, produced 8

6 China's steel mills utilisation rate falls for 3rd week on environmental checks 2018-06-12

Utilisation rate at steel blast furnaces across China fell for a third consecutive week last week as of June 8, data showed, as environmental inspections continued to weigh on operation at steel mills

7 Weekly China coal market news summary (Jun 11 – Jun 15) 2018-06-15

China to launch broader environmental inspections this month China will expand environmental inspections to more cities and regions in a new round of checks from this month to April next yea

8 CHN Energy reduces contract coal prices within 600 yuan/t, sources 2018-06-11

China Energy Investment Group, also known as CHN Energy, announced to control its monthly contract prices of thermal coal, media reported late June 8, in a way to cool down the overheated coal market.

9 China plans to create a $78 bln natural gas giant 2018-06-15

Together with its massive push to have more and more residential and industrial customers switch from coal to gas, China is aiming to overhaul the ownership of its huge gas pipeline network.

10 China's 20 large steel makers launch maintenance to improve environment 2018-06-14

A total 20 Chinese large steel makers have launched maintenances since June 11, said the Ministry of Ecology and Environment days earlier, in a move to strengthen environmental inspections at key poll