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China Could See Record-High LNG Imports in 2024

China could beat its 2021 all-time high of LNG imports this year, as industrial and commercial sectors are set to drive demand for the super-chilled fuel, an official at state-held energy giant PetroChina said on Wednesday.

Chinese LNG imports hit a record high of 78.8 million metric tons in 2021. The following year saw the first decline in LNG imports as prices soared in the energy crisis after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Last year, China imported around 71.2 million metric tons of LNG.

This year, the world’s top LNG importer could see its imports at between 

78 million metric tons and 80 million metric tons, Reuters quoted Zhang Yaoyu, global head of LNG and new energies for PetroChina International, as saying at an industry event today.

“Based on the first quarter data, that's achievable,” the official said.

If the forecast materializes, Chinese LNG imports would rise by between 9% and 12% year-over-year in 2024.  

So far this year, China has boosted its LNG imports, taking advantage of lower spot LNG prices compared to last year.

China imported in February a record volume of LNG for the month, as buyers took advantage of plummeting spot prices in Asia amid ample inventories and tepid demand.  

Moreover, China has boosted its imports of coal and natural gas so far this year, as it looks to stockpile fuel for the power plants ahead of the summer amid international prices that were half last year’s levels in the first four months of 2024.

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Chinese imports of natural gas jumped by 21% between January and April compared to a year earlier, while imports of coal rose by 13%, according to data reported by Bloomberg earlier this week.

The Asian benchmark LNG prices averaged a little over $9 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in the first quarter of 2024, compared to an average LNG price for delivery into north Asia of $18 per MMBtu in the first quarter of last year, per Bloomberg’s estimates.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on May 15 2024 said:
    Importing between 78 and 80 million tons (mt) of LNG this year won’t be a great surprise for the world’s largest economy based on purchasing power parity (PPP) and the largest consumer of energy..

    What I will be expecting is that at least 20% or 15-16 mt of LNG imports will be supplied by Russia’s giant LNG producer Novatek from
    It’s Arctic LNG 2 in which China is a major investor and on whom heavy Western sanctions were imposed recently to delay its progress.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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