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China eyes substantial rise in US LNG imports

  • Author:Leon Li
  • Release on:2021-11-18
China is expected to attract more international energy suppliers with its burgeoning natural gas demand to set a record this year, as the domestic economy has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic faster than expected and the government is on track to meet its long-term carbon neutrality targets, said analysts.

Their comments came after Chinese President Xi Jinping told US President Joe Biden during a virtual conference on Tuesday that China and the United States should increase cooperation on natural gas and new energy, and the two countries, together with the international community, should also maintain the security and stability of global energy industrial and supply chains.

According to BloombergNEF, the US has surpassed Qatar to become the second biggest liquefied natural gas supplier to China so far this year, only after Australia, and the trend is expected to further increase in the years to come as China's demand for clean energy like LNG increases.

Li Ziyue, an analyst with BloombergNEF, said US LNG shipments to China in the first three quarters have more than tripled year-on-year, driven by strong gas demand in China as a combined result of economic recovery and emission control measures.

"China is set to see more LNG imports from the US as at least five Chinese companies are in advanced talks to secure long-term LNG supplies from US exporters," Li said.

She said the US is gaining a bigger market share, but is still playing catch-up with Australia, which exported 17 million tons more LNG to China in the first three quarters.

According to Customs statistics, China imported 5.4 million tons of LNG from the US from January to August, soaring 375 percent year-on-year.

China's major energy companies-including China National Petroleum Corp, China Petroleum and Chemical Corp and China National Offshore Oil Corp-are all stepping up imports of LNG from the US.

China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, also known as Sinopec and the world's largest refiner by volume, recently inked a 20-year LNG deal with US exporter Venture Global LNG-the single largest LNG trade agreement in terms of volume between the two sides. It will supply 4 million tons of LNG each year. Sinopec's trading arm Unipec will also buy 3.8 million tons of LNG from Venture Global's Calcasieu Pass facility.

China National Petroleum Corp, the country's largest oil and gas company, has recently received LNG shipments from the US at Jiangsu's Rudong terminal, where almost 100 million cubic meters of natural gas will be transmitted to Yangtze River Delta regions to ensure sufficient gas supplies.

Under the phase-one trade agreement between China and the US, which covers China's increased purchases of US energy products, China is to increase energy imports from the US-including LNG, crude oil, refined products and coal-by $52.4 billion over two years on top of the 2017 baseline.

The deal is a solid demonstration indicating China is carrying out its promises, while it also comes as China's demand for clean energy is increasing amid the country's shift from fossil fuels to green energy, said Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

In addition to State-owned enterprises, private oil firms like ENN Natural Gas Co Ltd and Foran Gas Group Co Ltd are also trying to secure long-term liquefied natural gas supplies.

Major US oil company ConocoPhillips said it is exploring opportunities to supply more LNG from its current and future projects as demand for LNG grows.

Nearly 10 million tons per annum of its global LNG output is shipped to China to support the country's clean energy transformation goals.

"We have helped broaden the Asia-Pacific LNG market as well as China's domestic natural gas market by delivering LNG to China in conjunction with our partners," said Helen Currie, chief economist of ConocoPhillips.


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