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China imports over 7 mln T LNG in May, record for month – shiptracking data

China imported more than 7 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in May, a record volume for the month, shiptracking data showed, as industrial activity picked up pace amid strong domestic demand.

China imported 7.25 million to 7.3 million tonnes of LNG in May, up about 10% to 12% from April’s volumes of 6.5 million to 6.6 million tonnes, the data from Refinitiv Eikon and data intelligence firm Kpler showed on Tuesday.

It was also higher than the nearly 5.8 million tonnes of LNG imported in May last year, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

The world’s second-largest LNG importer typically ships in about 7 million to 8 million tonnes a month of LNG in winter when its demand peaks for power generation, but its gas appetite has been increasing this year even during the off-peak season, pushing spot prices LNG-AS to a multi-month high.

“Chinese buyers were actively buying cargoes in the past few months as their demand has been quite good,” a Singapore-based trader said.

China’s economy posted record growth in the first quarter as it recovered quickly from the pandemic although analysts expect the brisk expansion to moderate later this year.

China’s factory activity expanded at the fastest pace this year in May with new orders rising at the strongest pace so far this year and a gauge for export orders being the highest since November.

The country is also gradually expected to use natural gas to replace coal in winter heating, electricity generation and industry to curb its emissions, which could boost imports further.

China looks on track to overtake Japan as the world’s top LNG importer. Japan imported just 5.12 million tonnes of LNG in May, lowest monthly volumes since June last year, as the country grapples with a fourth wave of COVID-19.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Christopher Cushing)

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