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China February LNG imports eased on slower industrial demand growth

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Reuters are reporting that China’s LNG imports fell in February from a record high in January, with growth in demand from industrial users easing as the country enjoyed its traditional week-long Lunar New Year holiday in February.

The world’s second largest economy brought in 3.99 million t of LNG in February, up 69% from a year ago, but well down from the previous month’s 5.18 million t, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

Still, for the first two months for the year, LNG arrivals climbed 58% from the same period a year earlier to 9.15 million t.

Warmer weather will continue to dampen LNG imports, with China’s winter heating season having come to a close in mid-March.

“The market needs less gas now,” gas analyst Diao Zhouwei with IHS said, predicting import volumes will decline again this month.

Spot LNG prices fell to around 3000 yuan per t (US$474 per t) this week, slipping from a high of more than 6000 yuan per t in December.

However, demand from industrial consumers such as fertiliser makers is set to pick up, with some businesses having resumed operations after shutting for more than two months during a winter gas supply crunch.

Gas imports through pipelines grew 16% in February to 2.9 million t, customs data showed. For the first two months of the year, gas piped in grew 12% to 5.5 million t.

Meanwhile, China’s monthly diesel exports fell to 1.04 million t in February, the lowest since January 2017, while gasoline exports fell again from the peak level in December.

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