China imported more liquefied natural gas (LNG) than any other country last year, according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
That's according to data from the Global Trade Tracker. According to the report, China's LNG imports averaged 10.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), up 19 percent from 2020. LNG imports accounted for nearly two-thirds of China's total natural gas imports and provided 30 percent of China's natural gas supply in 2021.
Previously, Japan was considered the world's largest LNG importer for decades.
China began importing LNG in 2006 and, with the exception of 2015, has imported more LNG every year since. China has rapidly expanded its LNG import capacity, which was estimated at 13.9 Bcf/d in 2021. By the end of 2022, China's regasification capacity could increase by 2.8 Bcf/d to 16.7 Bcf/d, according to data from S&P Global Platts.
China's natural gas imports in 2021
|Country of origin||LNG||Pipeline||Total|
|Imports in Bcf/d|
|Rest of the world||1,6||0,4||2,0|
*16.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) equals approximately 166 billion cubic meters per year.
Source: China's General Administration of Customs and Global Trade Tracker.
In 2021, China imported LNG from 25 countries. The top six suppliers-Australia, the United States, Qatar, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Russia-supplied 8.9 Bcf/d, or 85 percent of China's total LNG imports. Since China cut tariffs on U.S. LNG imports from 25 percent to 10 percent in 2019, U.S. LNG exports to China have increased, averaging 1.2 Bcf/d in 2021. The United States was the largest supplier of spot LNG volumes to China last year. Several new long-term contracts between China and the United States are expected to begin in 2022 and 2023 from the Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi terminals for an estimated total volume of up to 0.5 Bcf/d. The new U.S. LNG export terminal at Calcasieu Pass will supply China's two national energy companies - Sinopec at 0.13 Bcf/d and CNOOC at 0.2 Bcf/d - starting next year.