China Surpasses Japan as Leading Gas Importer

China became the world`s largest natural gas importer in 2018 as its volume surpassed that of Japan. showcasing the country`s effort to pursue clean energy and guarantee supplies by diversifying sources. said an industry analyst.

The comment came after a report released by the CNPC Economics &amp. Technology Research Institute on Wednesday. which said that China`s natural gas imports reached about 125.4 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2018. up 37.1 percent year-on-year. 

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) accounted for 59 percent and pipeline gas for 41 percent. according to the report. Domestic gas production was estimated at 157.3 bcm in 2018. up 6.7 percent on a yearly basis. `Surging natural gas demand is driven by the central government`s push to use cleaner energy sources and crack down on pollution. which will not change despite an unstable external environment.` said Liu Guangbin. an analyst at sci99.com. a bulk commodity information website.

Liu noted that the increasing level of import shows China`s increasing reliance on other countries in a key resource like natural gas. which might pose some risks to China`s resource security in the long term. But in the short term. with China`s correct import strategy. he sees no risk.

`By far. the Chinese government has done a good job in diversifying import sources. and it is at the same time trying to increase domestic production to reduce import reliance.` Liu said. 

The report pointed out that by 2020. traditional natural gas providers such as Qatar and Australia will be challenged by the US and Russia. the two of which are forecast to increase their exports of LNG by 160 percent and pipeline natural gas by 60 percent. adding alternatives for major consumers like China.

`Except for those with rich natural gas resources. most countries in the world have to rely on imports.`It`s unavoidable.` Liu said.

Liu predicted that China`s gas demand and imports will continue to increase this year. `Since some new facilities including pipelines and receiving stations for LNG are expected to be put into use this year. the amount of imports is highly likely to increase further.` Liu said.

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