China Will Become Top Gas Importer in 2019

China Will Become Top Gas Importer in 2019China Will Become Top Gas Importer in 2019

China will become the world's top importer of natural gas next year, as its superpower economy grows and weans itself off coal-generated energy, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday. In its Gas 2018 annual report, the IEA said Chinese demand for natural gas will rise by almost 60% between 2017 and 2023 to 376 billion cubic meters, including a rise in its LNG imports to 93 bcm by 2023 from 51 bcm in 2017.

Imports of LNG, natural gas super-chilled to liquid form so it can be transported around the world on vessels, will rise to 505 bcm by 2023 from 391 bcm last year, a rise of 114 bcm, including China's 42-bcm growth, Reuters reported.

Global LNG exports, meanwhile, will surge 30% by 2023 with the United States becoming the second largest supplier in the world, compared to its negligible exports last year, thanks to the shale revolution that has transformed its energy markets.

The report from the Paris-based agency highlights the might the two powerhouses have over global energy markets, just as US President Donald Trump squares off with Beijing over trade.

China threatened tariffs on US oil and gas in retaliation to taxes imposed by Washington on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, although US LNG was not included in that threat.

China's rise to the top spot next year as an importer of both piped gas and LNG will knock Japan into second place but they together with South Korea continue to dominate the markets.

Japan, China and South Korea imported 55% of the 391 bcm of LNG sold last year and will buy 48% of the 505 bcm of LNG sold in 2023. When all of Asia is taken into account, LNG sales will rise to 75% of all LNG sold globally from 72% last year.

The demand for LNG in the top three Asian buyers has been driven by policy, as they move to the cleaner-burning energy source from coal-fired power plants.

In Japan, the Fukushima nuclear disaster accelerated demand after nuclear plants went offline.

In other Asian countries such as Indonesia, composed of hundreds of islands, vessel-borne gas is a convenient, cleaner and cheaper way of receiving energy than constructing pipelines for gas or using petroleum products such as diesel.


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