China’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports increased in February compared to the same month last year, but fell from the record highs from January as the winter heating season approaches its end amid ample supplies in Asia.
According to data from China’s General Administration of Customs, cited by Reuters, Chinese imports of LNG in February 2019 increased by 9.7 percent compared to February 2018, to 4.35 million tons.
The February 2019 imports, however, were off the record high LNG imports from January 2019, when Chinese imports reached 6.55 million tons, up by 2 percent from the previous record set in December.
Chinese LNG demand is still expected to grow, but this winter season, China was better prepared to meet its natural gas needs with LNG imports.
This, coupled with milder weather in Asia for most of the winter and rising global LNG supply, has led to Asian spot LNG prices dropping this winter. Last week, spot prices for May delivery to Northeast Asia slumped to below $5 per million British thermal unit (mmBtu)—the lowest level since May 2016, traders told Reuters.
China will still see its LNG demand growing, but at a slower pace than the growth between 2017 and 2018.
China breakneck demand surge of the past two years is expected to slow down this year as Beijing is determined to avoid severe shortages by boosting pipeline connectivity, building more storage and import terminals, and raising domestic natural gas production.
“Economic slowdown, a more considered approach on coal-to-gas switching and increased domestic infrastructure availability will mean LNG demand will slow in 2019, from the 40-45% growth we have seen in 2017 and 2018,” energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said in its 2019 LNG outlook in early January.
“But China will still grow at around 20%, by far the largest source of LNG demand growth in the global market,” according to WoodMac.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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