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China's April LNG supply from Australia hits record high, up 61% on year

Singapore — China imported a record high 2.79 million mt of LNG from Australia in April, up 61.3% year on year, latest customs data showed, amid growing domestic gas consumption, rising Australian LNG export capacity and trade tensions between China and the US.

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"Chinese LNG imports are growing and without a significant influx of US LNG, they are likely going to look to other sources of supply," said Jeff Moore, Manager, Asian LNG Analytics, with S&P Global Platts.

Meanwhile, regional supply has increased on a year-on-year basis as global LNG export expansions have met weak consumption in Japan and South Korea, the world's biggest demand center.

The two countries imported 44.3 million mt of LNG over January-April, down 3% from 45.7 million mt a year earlier, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

China's LNG imports from Australia also grew 36.5% from March, according to the latest data from China's General Administration of Customs.

The highest previous monthly import volume from Australia was 2.76 million mt recorded in November 2018.

Over January-April, China imported 8.93 million mt of LNG from Australia, up 40.2% year on year, the customs data showed.

Meanwhile, China's pipeline natural gas imports from Turkmenistan fell 13.8% year on year to 2.07 million mt in April, but the volume was up slightly from March, the data showed.

Over the first four months of the year, Turkmenistan supplied 8.61 million mt of natural gas to China via pipeline, broadly unchanged from the same period a year earlier.

China's LNG imports from Qatar were up 6.2% on year at 594,281 mt in April. The volume also rebound 37.5% on month after seeing two consecutive monthly drops, the customs data showed.

In addition, China resumed LNG imports from the US in April with a single LNG cargo of 66,000 mt.

China imported a total 7.65 million mt of natural gas in April, up 12.7% on year, as LNG imports play an increasingly vital role in the country's energy mix.

Imports for the month comprised 4.54 million mt of LNG and 3.11 million mt of pipeline gas, with LNG volumes rising 35.1% on year and pipeline gas supplies falling 9.3% on year, the data showed.

Over January-April, China imported 31.75 million mt of natural gas, up 15.9% on year. LNG imports for the period rose 22.9% to 15.72 million mt, while pipeline gas imports increased 6.6% to 12.43 million mt, the customs data showed.

On a month-on-month basis, April natural gas imports were up 10.3% from 6.94 million mt in March, with LNG imports rising 12% and pipeline gas imports rising 7.9%, the data showed.

--Analysis by Cindy Liang, newsdesk@spglobal.com

--Abache Abreu, abache.abreu@spglobal.com

--Edited by Wendy Wells, wendy.wells@spglobal.com