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China ramped up its imports of coking coal and liquefied natural gas from Russia to record levels last month despite a decline in overall LNG imports, Chinese customs data showed on Tuesday.
Chinese imports of LNG from Russia rose by one-third in September compared to the same month of 2021, the data cited by Bloomberg showed. All imports of LNG into China were down by 12% last month.
Amid tepid demand and high spot prices, China is expected to see an unprecedented slump in its liquefied natural gas imports this year, ceding the world’s top LNG importer status back to Japan, analysts say.
China, however, is importing more LNG from Russia while Europe shuns Russian cargoes.
Chinese imports of Russian coking coal, used in steelmaking, nearly tripled to 2.5 million tons last month from 900,000 tons in September last year. Coking coal imports this past month were also higher than the 1.9 million tons of imports in the previous month of August, according to the customs data.
Combined imports of thermal coal and coking coal from Russia jumped by 20% year over year in Sept to nearly 7 million tons.
In recent months, China has been taking advantage of discounted cargoes of Russian energy products, including oil, LNG, and coal. China also imports natural gas via a pipeline from Russia, the Power of Siberia, but Beijing hasn’t disclosed its pipeline import volumes this year.
China and India have become Russia’s key energy buyers after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as most Western countries shun, ban, or are about to embargo imports of Russian energy products.
The EU implemented a ban on coal imports in August and is set to introduce an embargo on seaborne imports of Russian crude oil starting December 5 and Russian refined oil products beginning on February 5, 2023.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.