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CHINA DATA: Jan-Feb natural gas imports soar 17.4% on year

Highlights

Pace up from 2.8% growth a year earlier

Gains due to severe winter weather

PetroChina doubles imports via China-Russia gas pipeline

Singapore — China's natural gas imports, including piped gas and LNG, jumped 17.4% on the year over January-February, up from a growth of 2.8% a year earlier, driven by higher-than-expected domestic consumption amid the most severe winter weather in decades.

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China imported a total of 20.8 million mt, or 28.68 Bcm, of natural gas in the first two months of 2021, compared with 17.7 million mt, or 24.43 Bcm, in the same period last year, preliminary General Administration of Customs data released March 7 showed. GAC did not release monthly data for January and February.

China had seen robust growth in natural gas demand since November 2020, and there was even a shortage of gas in the northern region in mid-December due to a demand spike triggered by the first cold snap in the winter, which pushed up the local trucked LNG price to as high as Yuan 10,000/mt, S&P Global Platts previously reported.

This forced China's major gas suppliers, mainly the three national oil companies -- PetroChina, Sinopec and CNOOC -- to increase their January and February gas imports in a bid to ensure adequate supply, sources said.

State-owned PetroChina has increased gas imports from the China-Russia gas pipeline eastern route, or Power of Siberia, to 28.8 Mcm/day starting from Jan. 3, according to state-owned infrastructure giant PipeChina. This is double from the contract level of 14.4 Mcm/day in 2020.

Also, state-owned Sinopec planned to receive 30 LNG cargoes totaling over 2 million mt in January to guarantee supply, the company has said on its official WeChat.

In comparison, China saw a steep decline in downstream gas demand last January and February due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Platts previously reported..

Separate volumes for LNG and pipeline gas will be released by the customs later this month.