China's natural gas imports, which currently account for more than 30 percent of domestic consumption, will continue to rise and boost Sino-US energy trade while changing the global market pattern, experts said.
The nation's growing demand for natural gas, under a policy to replace polluting coal with clean natural gas to combat air pollution, is set to attract more energy majors worldwide to meet the demand, while a more diversified and flexible natural gas import channel will also help ensure national energy security, said Li Li, research director at energy consulting company ICIS China.
According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the US, which was China's fifth-largest LNG supplier and exported 1.53 million metric tons of LNG to the country last year, may increase LNG exports to China, which should marginally reduce the trade deficit.
The country's energy companies are all rushing to meet the demand driven by China's rapidly growing thirst for natural gas. PetroChina signed a 25-year purchase contract with Houston, Texas-based Cheniere Energy in February for 1.2 tons per annum of LNG. Private companies including Guanghui Energy and ENN Group have joined State-owned CNOOC, PetroChina and Sinopec in the LNG receiving terminals business, increasing channels for spot LNG imports.
Bloomberg Intelligence figures show last year's LNG trade with the US was worth about $644 million, less than 0.2 percent of the trade gap of $375 billion. While US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross encourages China to import more LNG to reduce the deficit, the contribution would be marginal.