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China’s LNG Imports Jump To Record High In November

Chinese liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports soared by 48.5 percent in November 2018, compared to the same month last year, as China continues to have parts of the country switch to natural gas from coal for heating.

China’s LNG imports last month reached 5.99 million tons, beating the previous record of 5.18 million tons from January 2018 in the previous heating season, according to data from China’s General Administration of Customs, as carried by Reuters.

LNG imports into China in the first eleven months of this year jumped by 43.6 percent compared to January-November 2017, to 47.52 million tons and on course to easily beat the full-year LNG import record of 38.13 million tons from 2017, according to the customs data.

This winter season, Chinese authorities are determined to avoid another severe natural gas supply shortage. And they are handling supplies much better than past winter—domestic natural gas production is rising, state energy giants are boosting gas pipeline infrastructure and connectivity, and the coal-to-gas switch is more measured and moderate, taking into account expectations of demand.

Chinese natural gas imports are soaring, but procurement for this winter’s demand started early to avoid a last-minute rush and a repeat of the 2017-2018 winter.

This year, weather is also in favor of Chinese authorities. Milder weather a month into the heating season through mid-December has led to expectations that China won’t see another supply crunch between December and February.

Over the past week, LNG prices for February delivery in Asia rose slightly compared to the previous week, due to lower shipping rates as more LNG ships have become available and thanks to a slight drop in winter temperatures in some parts of Asia. According to traders who spoke to Reuters, Asian demand as a whole remains subdued, and price rises would be short-lived. A sustainable increase in Asian LNG prices would come if the weather in Asia turns cold for at least three weeks.   

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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