The Chinese LNG juggernaut rolls on. The country imported 3.25M tonnes of LNG in March 2018, 64.2% up on the level recoded the same month a year ago.
Although the country’s heating season has now come to an end, and gas requirements from that sector are slackening, burgeoning demand for gas in the industrial sector is more than compensating and underpinning sustained, strong LNG import levels.
The March volume brings aggregate Chinese LNG purchases for Q1 2018 to 12.4M tonnes, a 60% jump on Q1 2017.
China’s LNG imports surged by 42.3% in 2017, reaching 39.1M tonnes and propelling the country past South Korea to become the world’s second-largest LNG importer. Last year’s rise in Chinese LNG import volumes followed a 39.6% leap in 2016.
The government’s decision to promote the use of gas over coal to reduce air pollution in major cities is not only supporting continued growth in China’s LNG imports but also helping maintain the balance between LNG supply and demand in the global marketplace.
Among the country’s 18 receiving terminals reporting gains, the Zhuhai facility of China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) imported 515,000 tonnes of LNG in Q1 2018, a 133% year-on-year increase. Of the total, 267,000 tonnes was loaded as LNG into cryogenic road tankers for inland distribution; the remainder was regasified and piped to local and regional customers. CNOOC expects Zhuhai to import 1.46M tonnes of LNG in 2018.
PetroChina has embarked on the third phase of its Tangshan terminal with the start of construction work on four additional 160,000 m3 storage tanks which will begin entering service in 2020. LNG throughput in 2017 at the three PetroChina terminals – Tangshan, Rudong and Dalian – was 95% ahead of the previous year’s figure. In March Dalian reported that it had received 10M tonnes of LNG since opening in November 2011.
Dredging work now underway in the main Meizhou Bay navigational channel serving CNOOC’s Fujian terminal will enable the berthing of LNGCs of up to the 266,000 m3 Q-max size commencing in 2019.
CNOOC’s Yuedong terminal in Guangdong recorded 760,000 tonnes of LNG imports in the first year of operations since its April 2017 commissioning.
Yuedong is one of 13 Chinese LNG import terminals that handle significant amounts of road tanker loadings. Of the 39.1M tonnes of LNG imported by the country in 2017, an astounding 10.2M tonnes was despatched to the final customer by road as LNG.