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China's big ambitions for gas consumption

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World Coal,

China’s consumption of natural gas rose at an average annual rate of 17% from 2003 to 2013, according to the US Energy Information Administration, reaching nearly 5.7 trillion cubic feet last year. Of this, imported natural gas met 32% of the country’s demand despite domestic production more than tripling since 2003.

An LNG giant

China became the third largest importer of LNG in 2012 behind Japan and South Korea. Last year it imported 870 billion cubic feet with estimates for the first six months of this year showing LNG imports growing at even faster levels than in previous years.

The country is also investing in pipelines to bring in natural gas from production areas in the western and northern regions to demand centres along the coast. In 2010, the first pipeline imports flowed into China from Turkmenistan through the Central Asia Gas Pipeline and by 2013 natural gas from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan had joined the import total of 974 billion cubic feet.

China also imports natural gas from Myanmar via pipeline and this year finalised a deal with Russia to purchase and transport natural gas from eastern Russia.

Threatening King Coal?

As a result of this surge in natural gas use, the Chinese government expects the fuel’s share of China’s energy mix to grow from 4.9% in 2012 to 10% in 2020 – eating into coal’s dominance of the country’s energy market and helping to reduce air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.

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