It’s well known that China is a major driver of the resource markets.
The nation is one of the world’s largest importers of commodities like copper, coal and oil.
But news last week suggests Chinese consumption is also becoming a critical factor in another market. Natural gas.
Platts reports that its estimates of Chinese natgas imports surged in December. With liquefied natural gas (LNG) deliveries to the country up 33.3% year-on-year. To 2.43 million tonnes.
Pipeline imports also showed big growth in December. Rising 20.1% over levels from the same month in 2012. Overall, Chinese natgas imports jumped 27.1% during the month, to 4.28 million tonnes.
That’s a major increase in consumption. Especially for a nation that’s already a significant force in global natgas import markets.
And it looks like the trend is set to continue. China’s total natgas demand during the full-year 2013 rose an estimated 15.4%. Projections from various sources in the country peg demand growth for 2014 at similar levels—likely between 10% and 15%.
The most critical point for international investors is that this supply is increasingly coming from imports. Total Chinese natgas imports for 2013 grew 30% over 2012 levels. Imports accounted for 32.3% of China’s total demand—up from 28.7% in 2012.
This means a lot of gas is going to continue to be diverted here. Attracted by high prices for products like LNG. At a time when demand from nearby nations like Japan and Korea is also running high.
Driven by such competition, China has shown a willingness to source gas from out-of-the-way suppliers. Nations like Yemen, Egypt and Equatorial Guinea all sent significant supplies here during the past year.
This openness to new supply sources bodes well for new LNG projects being developed—especially in the Pacific sphere. Places like Indonesia, Australia and Papua New Guinea are well-positioned in this regard.
We’ll see who moves to capitalize on rising demand in this center of the resource universe.
Here’s to the big players,
By. Dave Forest