China: Natural Gas Imports Rise

Chinese importers are taking advantage of low prices

China’s natural gas imports, including pipeline fuel and liquefied natural gas (LNG), increased at an annualized rate of 22.8% in the first quarter of 2024. The world’s second largest economy took advantage of relatively low prices to import 32.8 million tons of gas. In March alone, China imported 10.8 million tons, which is 21.3% more than the same month in 2023.

“Most of the year-on-year increase in imports in March was due to the downward movement of international spot natural gas prices,” an unnamed Chinese trader told Energy Intelligence. He said, “In the first quarter of 2024, China’s imported gas prices were on average 1.9% lower than in the corresponding period in 2023.”

During the same period, China’s domestic natural gas production increased by 5.2% to 63.2 billion cubic meters.

Regarding some specific export items, China’s Ministry of Commerce released updates on non-financial outbound direct investment (ODI) from China. They increased by 12.5% to $34.2 billion in the first quarter of the year. In particular, direct investment in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and European Union (EU) member countries increased by 36.7% and 34.5%, respectively, compared to the same period in 2023. Direct non-financial investment from China to countries that have joined the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), commonly known as the New Silk Road, climbed 12% to account for 22.4% of China’s total ODI in January through March 2024.