Chinese shipments in 2020 set yet another record in volumes

Tuesday, 26 January 2021
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LNG News Editor: 

China confirmed that 2020 liquefied natural gas imports hit a record as energy needs continued to grew even after the slowdown in the first half caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chinese imports totalled 67.13 million tonnes in 2020, an increase of 11.5 percent, according to China's General Administration of Customs.

Month high

Shipments during December to China’s network of more than 20 terminals also hit a record monthly high of 7.59MT, up 18.2 percent from the same month a year ago.

The December imports surpassed the previous record of 6.61MT achieved in November 2020.

China’s main LNG suppliers are Australia, Qatar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia and the US.

Imports by China have been increasing even at higher North Asia spot LNG cargo prices.

The Japan-Korea Marker price for North Asian 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 price for February 2021 cargoes subsequently increased further to a new record of $20.705 per MMBtu.

Chinese imports had grown fast to 61.68MT in 2019, a 13.5 percent increase on 2018 when 53.81MT was received and from 2017 when 39MT was imported.

China, unlike Japan, also has substantial pipeline natural gas imports.

It receives pipeline gas from southeast Asian nation Myanmar, the Central Asian republics of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, as well as from Russia since December 2019.

Analysts had forecast last year, before Covid-19 was known, that China would overtake Japan in LNG imports by 2022.

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