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CHINA DATA: Total natural gas imports rose 20% in 2021 on strong energy demand

Over January-December 2021, China’s total natural gas imports increased by 19.9% year on year, with pipeline gas imports rising more than 22% year on year and LNG imports growing more than 18% year on year, according to General Administration of Customs data released Jan. 20.

Australia was still China’s largest natural gas supplier, sending 31,343 million mt of LNG in 2021, which accounted for 39.3% of the country’s total LNG imports, down from 43.3% in 2020, calculations showed.

Meanwhile, LNG imports from US saw the biggest year-on-year jump, rising 187.4% to 9.21 million mt in 2021, which accounts for 11.6% of China’s total LNG imports in the year, up from 4.8% in 2020.

China’s natural gas imports from Russia rose 50.5% year on year in 2021, with pipeline gas volume surging 154.2% year on year to 7.54 million mt while LNG imports fell 9.9% year on year to 4.58 million mt, according to the data.

December record
China’s pipeline natural gas imports reached a new record of 4.02 million mt in December 2021, up 10.8% year on year and 5.2% higher month on month, customs data showed.

The last record high pipeline gas imports were seen at 3.87 million mt in September 2021, according to historical data.

Higher December pipeline gas imports were mainly driven by inflows from Russia and Kazakhstan. China imported 898,182 mt of pipeline gas from Russia in December 2021, up 24.3% year on year and 29.2% higher month on month, while pipeline imports from Kazakhstan also surged 30.9% year on year and doubled from November 2021 levels, the data showed.

On Dec. 14, 2021 Gazprom said that the daily amount of gas exports to China had been significantly increased under arrangements with CNPC, exceeding previously approved volumes for 2021.

PetroChina earlier said it would increase natural gas imports from Russia via the Power of Siberia pipeline to 43 million cu m/d by end-2021 from 28 million cu m/day, to help meet China’s winter demand. It also signed a short-term agreement to buy natural gas for October-March delivery via the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline.

These deals pushed up China’s pipeline gas imports in winter, and volumes which could rise further as Gazprom has said it would continue to increase natural gas exports to China in 2022 in line with supply contracts.

Prices surge
Lower prices compared to spot LNG contributed to China’s pipeline gas import growth. China imported 7.63 million mt of LNG in December 2021, up 0.5% year on year and rose by 10.5% month on month, the customs data showed.

The average price of pipeline gas imported by China was estimated at $6.15/MMBtu in December 2021, down slightly from $6.22/MMBtu in the previous month.

However, the average price of imported LNG, comprising both term and spot cargoes, was estimated at $18.93/MMBtu in December 2021, up 7% month on month, and more than triple the price of imported pipeline gas, calculations showed.

The average imported LNG price rose for the eight consecutive months in December 2021, increasing 170.8% compared with the value in April in the same year, while the average price of imported pipeline gas in December only moved up by 34.3% over the same period, according to Platts calculations.
Source: Platts

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