China’s LNG imports continue to rise

China, the world’s largest liquefied natural gas importer, increased its LNG imports by 31.5 percent in April compared to the same month last year, according to customs data.

Data from the General Administration of Customs shows that the country received 6.22 million tonnes during the last month.

During January-April, China imported 25.91 million tonnes of LNG, a rise of 22.7 percent year-on-year.

This also compares to 26.2 million tonnes China imported during January-April in 2021, which was a record year for China’s LNG imports with 78.93 million tonnes.

In January this year, China’s LNG import terminals took 7.25 million tonnes of LNG, up by 22.9 percent year-on-year, in February LNG imports rose by 15.2 percent to 5.95 million tonnes, while in March LNG imports increased by 25.1 percent to 6.65 million tonnes, customs data previously showed.

Natural gas imports, including pipeline gas, during the last month reached 10.29 million tonnes in April, rising 14.7 percent compared to some 8.97 million tonnes in April 2023

China’s pipeline imports dropped 3.2 percent year-on-year in April to some 4.07 million tonnes.

Chinese buyers were buying spot LNG cargoes during this year due to low JKM prices.

Asian spot LNG prices were below $10 per MMBtu from the second half of January and until the second half of April.

JKM for July is currently at about $11 per MMBtu.

World’s largest LNG importer

China’s LNG imports rose 12.6 percent in 2023, and the country overtook Japan as the world’s largest LNG importer.

The country received about 71.32 million tonnes in the January-December period.

This is a rise compared to about 63.44 million tonnes of LNG in 2022 when imports dropped due to very high spot LNG prices and Covid lockdowns.

China’s 2023 LNG imports dropped compared to record in 2021.

In 2024, Japan imported about 17.7 million tonnes during January-March, down by some 2.08 million tonnes compared to China’s volumes.

Official data for Japan’s LNG imports in April is not yet available.

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