Hardly a week goes by without an announcement about another Chinese LNG terminal newbuilding project, expansion scheme or facility completion. The rolling news provides the best indication yet that the current unprecedented growth in Chinese LNG imports is set to continue for some time yet.
Over the past two months two new LNG import facilities have entered into service and construction work has commenced on two additional Chinese terminals. As regards existing facilities, one terminal has recently inaugurated a new storage tank while another has begun work on a major expansion project.
In the meantime, three Chinese importers have signed four separate agreements with gas sellers for additional long-term LNG supplies. Finally, PetroChina, a 25% shareholder in the LNG Canada export project, and its partners in the scheme have agreed to proceed with its construction.
China’s LNG imports for the first eight months of 2018 reached 32.6M tonnes, a leap of 47.8% over the tally recorded in the first eight months of 2017. The country’s LNG imports for 2018 are on course to climb to around 50M tonnes, up from 39.1M tonnes last year. Chinese purchases will account for half the expansion in global LNG trade in 2018.
The two newly opened terminals handling some of that incoming traffic are CNOOC’s new Shenzhen Diefu complex in southern Guangdong province and ENN Group’s Zhoushan installation in Zhejiang province.
The Shenzhen Diefu facility has the capacity to handle up to 4 mta of LNG and is CNOOC’s 10th and China’s 20th LNG receiving terminal. The 3-mta ENN Zhoushan terminal is a multifunctional LNG installation, able to handle not only receiving and regasifying LNG imports but also loading LNG bunker vessels, coastal distribution tankers, cryogenic road tankers and ISO tank containers.
CNOOC and ENN are also the companies behind the two new Chinese terminals on which construction work has just begun. CNOOC has kicked off work on a 3-mta facility at Longhai City near Zhangzhou in Fujian province. It will have three 160,000-m3 storage tanks and is due for completion in September 2021.
The ENN terminal newbuilding project also involves a 3-mta facility due for 2021 completion. The US$620M terminal, to be located at Wenzhou on the southern coast of Zhejiang province, will be an ENN/Sinopec joint venture.
Wenzhou will be the fourth Chinese LNG import terminal in which Sinopec is involved and two of the company’s existing facilities are behind the recently announced expansion projects. Sinopec has just commissioned a third storage tank at its Tianjin terminal, of 160,000 m3, and revealed that ground has been broken at its Qingdao facility in a US$335M project that will provide two additional 160,000-m3 storage tanks and boost LNG-handling capacity at the site from 3 to 7 mta.
Sinopec made the front pages of China’s energy publications again in September when it was announced that its Beihai LNG terminal in Guangxi province had been connected to the China-Myanmar gas pipeline. The new link has enabled Beihai to begin supplying gas to the full Guangxi regional grid.
CNOOC is behind two of the four gas supply agreements recently finalised by Chinese buyers. In one of the deals CNOOC and Total approved an upward revision of an existing sales and purchase agreement, from 1 mta for 15 years to 1.5 mta for 20 years.
CNOOC has also signed a heads of agreement covering the potential purchase of LNG from Canada’s Woodfibre project. If the deal is finalised, the 2.1-mta Woodfibre plant would provide CNOOC with 0.75 mta of LNG for 13 years, starting in 2023.
Zhejiang Provincial Energy Group is driving another of the recent Chinese gas supply deals. The utility has signed a framework agreement with ExxonMobil to be provided with 1 mta of LNG for 20 years by the energy major. Deliveries, to be sourced from ExxonMobil’s global portfolio, are expected to commence in the early 2020s.