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China's Nov natural gas imports rise 3.3% on year

Singapore — China's natural gas imports, comprising LNG and pipeline gas, increased 3.3% year on year to 9.455 million mt in November, preliminary data released Sunday by the General Administration of Customs showed.

However, the 3.3% growth is a significant slowdown from the year-on-year growth rate of nearly 40% posted in November 2018, official data showed.

Market sources attributed the decline in the growth rate to a combination of a slowing economy, and a relaxation of the coal-to-gas switching policies this year.

China's total natural gas imports were 87.113 million mt over the January-November period, up 7.4% from 81.140 million mt in the same period last year, according to the customs data.

In comparison, Chinese gas imports grew at a rate of 33% year on year over January-November 2018, historical data showed.

China's gross domestic product growth rate continued to slow in the third-quarter at 6%, compared with 6.4% in Q1 and 6.2% in Q2, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

Softer coal-to-gas switching policies likely contributed to slower gas consumption, resulting in weaker growth in November, especially since natural gas is more expensive than coal in China, market sources said.

The National Energy Administration in July said it would encourage regions to choose the most accessible form of energy to guarantee heating during winter.

It also offered support for cities to build centralized "clean coal" heating systems, S&P Global Platts reported previously.

-- Analyst Cindy Liang, cindy.liang@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Norazlina Jumaat, norazlina.jumaat@spglobal.com