It hasn't been getting much press. But numbers lately are showing a big trend in motion in global natural gas markets.
Specifically in China. Where new stats this week reveal that natgas demand is going through the roof.
Calculations from Platts on Chinese government data showed that national natgas demand in January jumped 15.3% over the same period from the previous year, to 16.89 billion cubic meters (nearly 600 billion cubic feet).
That's a big increase. And continues a recent trend we've seen toward higher natural gas use in China. Overall, January's demand was up 3.9% from December 2013--a month when the numbers also showed a significant rise in year-on-year terms.
The bigger story is where Chinese supply is coming from. Domestic production for January totalled only 10.99 billion cubic meters, or 65% of overall demand. Meaning China's market is increasingly being fed by imports.
The numbers here are eye-catching. For January, Chinese natgas imports rose 48% year-on-year, to 6.12 billion cubic meters. A major jump in supply coming into the country.
Some of this is being provided by new pipeline projects. Which saw higher levels of supply coming in from places like Central Asia and Myanmar.
But a bigger proportion is coming from LNG. China's LNG imports were up a stunning 76.2% in January, to 2.65 million tonnes.
These figures haven't been widely discussed. But they suggest this part of the world is emerging as a major driver of international natural gas markets.
Look for China to become a potent force in setting LNG prices. Much like the country is now doing in the global market for natural gas liquids being shipped out of plays like U.S. shale basins. We're simply not seeing this scale of demand increase in many places on Earth.
Here's to double-digit growth,
By Dave Forest