In the coming years, China will remain the world's largest importer of natural gas, experts predict. According to forecasts, by 2020, natural gas consumption in the PRC will increase to 340 billion cubic meters per year, of which own production will amount to 220 billion cubic meters of gas, and imports - 120 billion cubic meters of gas. In 2023, China’s estimated natural gas imports will reach 171 billion cubic meters.
Experts explain the growth trend in imports of “blue fuel” by the absence of other opportunities for China to reduce environmental pollution. Despite the fact that the government of China supports research in the field of alternative energy, in the coming years, the country will not be able to reduce the use of coal in industry without increasing imports of natural gas.
According to a report published by ASKCI Consulting Co, a company engaged in planning and consulting in the field of industrial research, from 2013 to 2017, the import of natural gas to China increased by 249.3%. In 2017, this figure amounted to 68.5 million tons, an increase of 26.9% compared with 2016.
In 2018, China purchased abroad 90.39 million tons of natural gas, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is 31.9% more than in 2017.
According to experts, a significant increase in imports of LNG by China is also due to the fact that at the moment there are not enough capacities for transporting pipeline gas to China. Thus, the workload of the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline approached one hundred percent mark in November 2018. Existing gas pipelines are not enough to meet the growing Chinese demand.
The demand for gas in China is growing thanks to measures to protect the environment, which the PRC government is actively pushing, gradually abandoning coal energy. The use of coal to generate electricity leads to catastrophic environmental pollution.
It should be noted that Turkmenistan remains the key exporter of natural gas to China, while liquefied gas has been bought most of all in Australia, ASEAN countries and Qatar.