China on the path to becoming the world’s top LNG importer

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Specifically, based on information by the General Administration of Customs, China’s imports of LNG soared 40.4% year-on-year to a record 53.8 mln tonnes.

Although this year things were a bit slower, growth remained in a good pace, with imports in the first 5 months of 2019 up 20.4% year-on-year to 23.9 mln tonnes.

Generally, it is obvious that the market is dominated by Asia, which holds the 75% of global LNG imports. In detail, the three countries of China, Japan and South Korea by themselves account for 55% of global LNG imports.

Moving on, the report highlights that the big winner in terms of supply is Australia, which in the January to May period accounted for 52% of China’s total LNG imports, up from the 45% share Australia had in the same period last year.

Australia is benefitting from a number of new liquefaction projects that are being commissioned.

According to the report.

In light of many projects to be implemented, such as Shell’s Prelude facility in the northwest of the country, Australia is on track to soon overtake Qatar as the largest exporter of LNG. Qatar on the other hand saw it’s share of the Chinese market shrink to just 16% in the first 5 months of 2019, from 20% in the same period last year.

In terms of absolute volumes, there was a 5 percent decline year-on year.

Aside from Australia, another producer which is benefiting from this realignment in the trade is Papua New Guinea, which almost doubled both its volumes and its market share in China – from 3% to 6%.