China’s gas imports, both via pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG), is estimated to surge by more than 25% in 2017, to top 67 million tonnes, according to preliminary data compiled by Thomson Reuters Eikon.
The Asian giant is currently the biggest importer of crude and coal. In terms of gas consumption, China ranks No. 3 behind the U.S. and Russia, relying on imports to meet roughly 40% of its demand, Kallanish Energy notes.
Looking to become a less polluting country, China is likely to increase its gas consumption and, therefore, imports will continue to grow. Gas production is also planned to increase, but the move away from coal to gas will require quick and large volumes of the fuel.
“Both LNG and pipeline imports will continue to increase in the next few years,” said Miaoru Huang, Asia gas and LNG senior manager at Wood Mackenzie. “We expect China to overtake Japan as the world’s largest gas importer in 2018 … but Japan will remain as the No.1 LNG importer till around 2028,” she added.
Japan reportedly imports roughly 83.5 million tonnes of gas per year, all in the form of LNG.