Chinese LNG imports fell y/y for the first time since November 2012, down by 0.18 Mt (-11.8%) at 1.37 Mt. The main reason for this decline was the significantly warmer than average weather over the month. The whole country experienced 24% fewer HDDs y/y, 18% fewer than the five-year average. Despite this, pipeline gas imports saw a modest y/y growth of 0.09 Mt (5%), while takes from Turkmenistan saw declines for the second month in a row (down by 0.01 Mt, -1%).
Similar to March, China imported LNG from seven countries in April. However, April saw some significant changes in terms of supply patterns. Imports from Australia were at their highest levels since December 2010 at 0.39 Mt, while LNG takes from Malaysia were down to their lowest levels since August 2012 at 0.15 Mt. Qatari takes were also at their lowest levels since March last year, down to 0.41 Mt. Imports from Angola were resumed after six months of disruptions. Norway also sent its first shipment to China over the past four years, indicative of the supply glut in Europe.
Chinese domestic gas production, meanwhile, grew y/y by 0.18 Mt (1.8%) to 7.19 Mt, reflecting a slowdown in domestic production growth.
As a result of the decline in LNG takes and marginal pipeline growth, total gas imports were down y/y for the first time since 2010 by 0.1 Mt (-3%). The reduction in gas imports came despite an increase in total power generation. The latter was up y/y by 25.6 TWh (6.4%) in April, and by 92.2 TWh (7.5%) over the first four months of the year. Thermal power generation also saw a 10.4 TWh (3.2%) y/y increase in April, and was up by 74.7 TWh (5.6%) compared to the start of 2014.
Generally, we do not expect to see significant y/y reductions in LNG imports. Added thermal generation capacity this year will support gas demand over the upcoming cooling season, as will the added regas capacity established at the end of last year. Some downside risk is still present, as El Niño could help limit cooling demand. This could keep import levels similar to last year's levels, in the shoulder (non-peak) months.