Natural gas demand to see huge growth

By Zheng Xin | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2017-11-17 09:16

China's natural gas consumption will increase this year on the back of continued policy backing from Beijing, as part of a broader clean-energy drive to replace coal with natural gas and other efforts to reduce chronic air pollution.

The liquefied natural gas market in the country has witnessed rapid growth so far this year, with the January-September period seeing total consumption of 167.6 billion cubic meters, a 16.6 percent year-on-year growth, higher than last year's 7 percent, according to the CNPC Research Institute of Economics and Technology.

The quiet period between summer and winter months has also seen a pickup in the Chinese natural gas market, while the peak season witnessed a more drastic growth, says Duan Zhaofang, chief engineer of the institute's natural gas market research department.

Platts Analytics forecasts that China will surpass South Korea to become the world's second-largest LNG importer next year. While South Korean LNG demand is expected to remain under 40 million metric tons in 2018, Chinese LNG imports will continue to grow, reaching nearly 50 million tons next year, it said.

According to Marc Howson, director of LNG Market Development from S&P Global Platts, Chinese LNG imports are up by nearly 50 percent year-on-year to date in 2017, driven by the government's efforts for cleaner-burning fuel.

This has been facilitated by growing contracted LNG supplies into China, particularly from both western and eastern Australia as well as the United States' Gulf Coast, he says.

Li Li, an energy research director at ICIS China, says China has set a high target for the proportion of natural gas in the country's energy mix by 2020. China needs to speed up natural gas supply from home and abroad to meet the demand.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission, China's natural gas supplies will exceed 360 billion cu m by 2020, and will account for 10 percent of China's energy production by then, compared with the current 7 percent.

Output of natural gas rose from 50 billion cu m in 2005 to 135 billion cu m in 2016.

While currently around 39 percent of natural gas consumed in China is imported from abroad, Chinese oil giants are also stepping up imports from overseas to ensure energy supply and security.

Qu Guangxue, a spokesman for China National Petroleum Corp, the country's largest oil and gas supplier and producer, says the company will step up natural gas imports and further negotiate with Central Asian nations for additional stocks.

Since its launch in December 2009, the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline will have transported 200 billion cu m of natural gas by November, equivalent to the total annual natural gas consumption of China or 11 years' of natural gas supply for Beijing.

Meanwhile, China is also stepping up construction of terminals and infrastructure to help meet the surge in demand, with its oil and gas pipeline network expected to reach 240,000 kilometers by 2025 from the current 112,000 km.

This means the country will need to build an additional 128,000 km of pipeline in the next few years, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

( China Daily European Weekly 11/17/2017 page27)

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