China gas data - December 2014

Published at 15:37 23 Jan 2015 by . Last edited 09:29 20 Apr 2016.

In December, Chinese LNG imports were down y/y by 0.42 Mt (-17%) to 2.02 Mt. Pipeline gas imports on the other hand, grew y/y for the ninth month a row by 0.62 Mt (33%). LNG imports from Indonesia and Malaysia rose y/y by 0.06 Mt (50%) and 0.07 Mt (28%) respectively. Imports from Australia and Qatar fell y/y by 4 Kt (-1%) and 0.5 Mt (-46%) respectively. Pipeline takes from Turkmenistan were up y/y by 0.4 Mt (27%), and imports from Myanmar were up again significantly by 0.31 Mt (300%).

As a result, total Chinese gas imports were at 4.49 Mt in December, which is higher y/y by 0.20 Mt (4.7%). Chinese domestic gas production, meanwhile, grew y/y by another 1.2 bcm (11%) to 12.2 bcm. Over 2014, domestic production has grown by 9.3% y/y (10.6 bcm).

Total LNG imports over 2014 were at 19.9 Mt, which is higher y/y by 1.86 Mt (10%). While this was one of the stronger performances globally, it was a long way from the 5 Mt growth we expected over 2014. The extreme mildness of 2014 largely explains the difference. Total gas imports-including pipeline imports-over the year were up by 4.8 Mt (13%) at 42.9 Mt, and the big increase in pipeline volumes also contributed to disappointing Chinese LNG demand.

The increase in total gas imports came alongside an increase in total power generation. Power generation was up y/y by 12.3 TWh (2.6%) in December, while thermal generation fell by 2.9 TWh (-1%) y/y over the same period. The decline in thermal generation was made up for by strong increases in hydro and nuclear generation, which were up y/y by 5.3 TWh (10%) and 2.9 TWh (28%) respectively. Output from all other power sources also increased by another 7 TWh (57%) y/y. While lower LNG prices-around 9.5 $/mmbtu in December-should support some extra takes, LNG remains uncompetitive against coal in China, and will do until delivered prices drop off towards the 7 $/mmbtu level.

Over 2014, China added 104 GW of generating plants, with 47 GW thermal. This is on top of the 36.5 GW of thermal added in 2013. Of the non-thermal plants, 22 GW is hydro and 34 GW is both nuclear and renewables, making it the second year in a row where more low carbon generation was added than thermal capacity.

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