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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Business -> 
China becomes world’s largest buyer of natural gas
    2018-06-26  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

CHINA’S drive for cleaner skies has pushed it past Japan to become the world’s largest buyer of natural gas, a milestone for a nation that wasn’t even importing the fuel 15 years ago.

The development underscores how rapidly China is boosting natural gas use at the expense of dirtier fuels like oil and coal to meet the government’s pollution-cutting goals. Governments, especially in the country’s northern regions, have requested millions of homes and factories to replace coal boilers with gas burners.

China imported 7.41 million tons of natural gas through pipelines and seaborne tankers in May, according to latest data released by the General Administration of Customs. That puts it at 34.9 million tons for the first five months of the year.

Japan’s imports during that period total 34.5 million tons, according to its Ministry of Finance. China bought more than Japan in some months last year, but this is the first time its cumulative imports during a year have been higher.

China — already the biggest importer of oil and coal — is the world’s third-biggest user of natural gas behind the United States and Russia, but has to import around 40 percent of its total needs as domestic production can’t keep up with demand.

The nation’s soaring natural gas demand has been a boon for the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market. China’s on track to become the world’s biggest LNG importer by 2021 as growth in domestic production and pipelines won’t be able to keep pace with needs, analysts at JP Morgan Chase & Co. said in a report June 15.

LNG became the biggest source of China’s overseas gas supply most months over the past year. The nation imported 4.15 million tons of the fuel via tanker last month, compared with 3.27 million tons by pipeline, customs data show. Piped gas supplies could get a boost late next year when Russia starts up its Power of Siberia pipeline.

China’s first liquefied natural gas terminal opened in 2004 and its first major import pipeline was commissioned in 2009.

China’s surging demand already pushed it past South Korea in 2017 as the world’s No. 2 LNG importer.

China last year started to move millions of households and many industrial facilities from coal to gas as part of efforts to clean its skies, sparking an unprecedented rally in overseas import orders.

China’s three biggest LNG suppliers are Australia, Qatar and Malaysia, while pipeline imports come from Central Asia and Myanmar.

Unlike established LNG importers which import the bulk of their cargoes under long-term contracts with fixed monthly volumes and a link to the oil market, many Chinese utilities buy LNG in the spot market when they need it at short notice.

(SD-Agencies)

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