China’s combined natural gas imports for January and February 2021 rose 17.5 percent to 20.80 million tonnes compared with the previous year as colder weather increased demand for winter heating and industrial activity was higher than last year when Covid-19 was spreading.
Natural gas imports over the January-February period in 2019 had amounted to 17.36MT for LNG and pipelines, according to China's General Administration of Customs.
China’s main LNG suppliers are Australia, Qatar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia and the US.
The Chinese also receive pipeline gas from southeast Asian nation Myanmar and from the Central Asian republics of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, as well as from Russia since December 2019 as part of Russian company Gazprom's Power of Siberia project.
The separate data for LNG is expected to be released soon in the belated statistical gathering process caused by the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays in February 2021.
Chinese industrial activity usually slows during the New Year break, which fell in the middle of February this year.
The January-February period of 2020 was when Covid-19 was spreading in China.
The Chinese data showed that in January-February 2021, overall imports of all products increased 22.2 percent from a year earlier.
China also posted a trade surplus of $103.25 billion for the first two months of 2021.
Analysts had expected the trade surplus to narrow to $60.15Bln from $78.17Bln in December.
China had confirmed in January 2021 that 2020 LNG imports hit an annual record.
Chinese imports totalled 67.13MT of LNG in 2020, an increase of 11.5 percent.
Shipments during December to China’s network of 22 LNG terminals also hit a record monthly high of 7.59MT, up 18.2 percent from the December 2019.
Imports by China have been increasing even at higher North Asia spot LNG cargo prices.
The Japan-Korea Marker price for North Asia had fallen to its lowest ever of $1.83 per million British thermal units on the 29th of April 2020 before jumping more than eight-fold in the closing stages of December to a more than six-year high of $15.10 per MMBtu.
The JKM prices then rose substantially in January and February 2021 to reach a reported high of up to $38.00 per MMBtu.
Chinese imports had grown at a fast pace to 61.68MT in 2019, a 13.5 percent increase on 2018 when 53.81MT was received and from 2017 when 39MT was imported.