China’s push for cleaner air and fuel is driving an unprecedented demand for natural gas, and the United States is well-positioned to seize this opportunity and export even more of its growing gas production to the thirsty nation.
U.S. companies have plans for even more liquefied natural gas (LNG) export trains and facilities to come online in the coming years, and this winter’s surge in Chinese LNG demand and imports underpins a second wave of LNG investment in the United States, analysts and company executives believe.
The Chinese push to cut pollution and make millions of households switch to natural gas from coal for heating resulted in China becoming the world’s second-largest LNG importer in 2017, outpacing South Korea and second only behind Japan, the U.S. EIA said last month. Chinese LNG imports surged 46 percent last year. And while China increased its domestic production and pipeline imports last year, it was not enough; natural gas shortages in northern China led to record levels of LNG imports during the winter. Overall, natural gas imports accounted for 40 percent of China’s 2017 natural gas supply, and LNG made up more than half of those imports. True, China is planning to hit an all-time high for natural gas production this year, which includes raising the share of gas in its energy mix—still, domestic production growth will be woefully insufficient compared to its soaring consumption.
So, the United States is all too happy to step in to supply part of that demand.
Cheniere Energy is one such supplier, which signed last month two long-term deals—through 2043—to supply LNG to China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), with the LNG price indexed to the Henry Hub price plus a fixed component.
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