Chinese LNG imports jump as pipeline deliveries fall amid national reorganization of gas assets

Tuesday, 30 June 2020
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LNG Journal editor

Chinese liquefied natural gas imports jumped in May to around 70 cargoes and pipeline gas imports dropped as the nation resumed LNG shipments from the US after a trade dispute and further re-opened its economy after the Covid-19 lockdowns.

China’s LNG imports increased by 18 percent in May to total 5.23 million tonnes, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Going up

Chinese LNG imports in May 2019 had amounted to 4.43MT. In the January-May period, the country imported 25.48MT, a year-on-year rise of 6.7 percent.

LNG imports for the first five months of 2019 had amounted to 23.87MT.

That’s as China’s pipeline natural gas imports dropped 16.6 percent in May to 2.61MT.

In the five-month 2020 period to May, pipeline imports reached 4.75MT, down 30 percent compared with the same period of 2019.

China imports its pipeline gas from Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Russia.

China’s main LNG suppliers are Australia, Qatar, Malaysia and Indonesia, while the US has just resumed LNG shipments. A total of six US cargoes arrived in April and several in May.

At the same time, more cargoes have started arriving from the Russian Yamal plant via the Northern Sea Route.

The Chinese energy industry is currently undergoing changes as a national pipeline and terminals company asserts itself.

China Oil & Gas Pipeline Network Corp., which the government created to take pipeline and terminal assets from the country’s three state-owned energy major China National Petroleum Corp., China National Offshore Oil Corp. and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (Sinopec), will allow more third-party access to the infrastructure.

The Chinese energy majors import most of the nation's LNG and own and operate almost the whole network of more than 20 import terminals.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission has also been working to encourage companies to expand the gas pipeline network, improve gas storage and LNG import capabilities.

The area around Tianjin in northeast China currently has floating and onshore import terminals and new facilities are planned to turn the Port into the main China LNG hub and the biggest in Asia.

Tianjin accounted for nearly 20 percent of all Chinese LNG imports during the first five months of 2020.

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