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China imported a record-high amount of liquefied natural gas last December, at 6.29 million tons or 25 percent more than in the previous month, Reuters reports, citing customs data.
The full-2018 LNG import figure was even more impressive, representing a 41-percent increase over 2017, at 53.78 million tons of the fuel, according to customs data-based calculations by Reuters.
The fuel is getting increasingly attractive as abundant supply pressures prices to a lot more affordable levels than in the past. China is the dream buyer for every producer as Beijing is making a radical pivot away from coal and into more sparing fossil fuels, namely natural gas and LNG.
Last year, this pivot cost several million households their heating during the worst of the winter months because the authorities had not planned properly for levels of gas demand and distribution network for the fuel had not been fully developed. This year, to avoid a repeat of the gas crisis, the Chinese authorities, central and local, began storing LNG and natural gas early on.
China imported a total 9.23 million tons of gas, both by pipeline and as LNG, up 17 percent on the year in December. Since it began preparing for the winter early in 2018, total natural gas imports for last year soared by almost 32 percent from 2017 to 90.39 million tons, solidifying China’s position as the world’s biggest importer of the fuel.
The country is also shaping up to unseat Japan as the world’s top LNG importer with plans in place to quadruple its LNG import capacity over the next twenty years. The current capacity, spread across 19 import terminals, stands at 2.86 trillion cu ft per year. In 20 years, if the plans are carried out, this will rise to over 11 trillion cu ft per year.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.