China’s imports of LNG fell 11.5% year on year to 4.04 million mt in October, and were down 20.7% month on month, S&P Global Platts calculations based on latest data from the General Administration of Customs showed Tuesday.
Market sources attributed the decline to a domestic economic slowdown, a long shutdown at PetroChina’s Rudong LNG terminal, the relaxation of China’s coal-to-gas switching policies and stricter emission restrictions and lower industrial activity during the country’s 70th National Day holiday in early October.
The import cost for October LNG arrivals averaged $464/mt, down 13.6% on year but up 1.3% on month, Platts calculations based on the customs data said.
Over January-October, China imported 47.43 million mt of LNG, up 14.2% on year, the customs data showed.
Australia remained the top LNG supplier to China in October at 2.1 million mt, down 7.4% on year and down 0.7% on month, the data showed. Over January-October, imports from Australia totaled 22.8 million mt, up 24.2% on year.
Russia overtook Malaysia to become the second largest LNG supplier to China in October at 424,605 mt, up 563.5% on year, but edging down 0.2% on month, the data showed. LNG imports from Malaysia totaled 320,491 mt, down 35.2% on year and down 53.7% on month.
PIPELINE GAS IMPORTS DOWN 8% ON YEAR
China imported 2.48 million mt of natural gas via pipeline in October, down 8.1% from a year earlier and down 20.3% on month, the customs data showed.
The government sets the guidance price for city-gate gas prices, which is typically lower than the import cost, and market sources said importers were striving to reduce contract volumes as a result.
China’s pipeline natural gas imports from main supplier Turkmenistan fell 9.4% on year 1.56 million mt in October and were down 23.2% on month. Over January-October, China received 20.19 million mt of natural gas via pipeline from Turkmenistan, down 3.7% on year, the data showed.
Pipeline natural gas imports from Kazakhstan totaled 340,771 mt in October, down 15.8% on year and down 19% on month.
China imported 30.31 million mt of natural gas via pipeline over January-October, edging down 0.6% on year, the data showed.
CONSUMPTION SLOWS DOWN
China imported a total 6.52 million mt of natural gas via ship and pipeline in October, down 10.2% on year, and the first year-on-year decline in two years, the data showed.
October is typically a higher demand month due to gas storage restocking and firm baseload industrial and city gas demand, but this has not been the case this year due to weak industrial activity and the lack of demand to refill inventories, according to S&P Global Platts Asia LNG analytics manager Jeff Moore.
“The situation could turn back around with the startup of heating demand in northern China. Even so, Platts Analytics expects Chinese LNG imports to grow less than 5 Bcm this winter compared to last winter,” Moore said.
Over the first 10 months of the year, China imported a total 77.75 million mt of natural gas via ship and pipeline, up 7.9% on year.
The country’s natural gas demand growth has slowed this year due mainly to softer economic growth and coal-to-gas switching policies, but the government’s target of reducing air pollution and moving to cleaner burning fuels was expected to continue to drive the country’s gas consumption in the longer term.