Valve control wheels are seen at ENN Energy Holdings Ltd.’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on Zhoushan Island, Zhejiang province, China. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)  

China Is Expected to Become World’s Biggest Natural Gas Buyer by 2040

(Bloomberg) -- China, the driver of global demand, is forecast to become the world’s largest gas-buying country with net imports approaching the level of the European Union by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency’s the World Energy Outlook.

  • China already overtook South Korea as second-largest LNG importer last year and is on track to surpass Japan. By 2040, it will be buying a total of 369 billion cubic meters of gas, while volumes into the EU, the biggest buyer, will be just 4 billion cubic meters higher. The gap was as big as 243 billion last year.
China Is Expected to Become World’s Biggest Natural Gas Buyer by 2040

Key Insights

  • China’s emergence as a super power in the energy markets will benefit exporters of liquefied natural gas as well as Russian pipeline gas supplier Gazprom PJSC that’ll next year complete its first link to supply the fuel to China known as Power of Siberia.
  • Even as European gas demand has been revised down amid stricter energy efficiency and renewables targets, gas infrastructure will remain a key asset for security of supply. Nations with built out systems will be better at keeping prices in check in a market where more volatile weather patterns will be increasingly important for setting prices.
China Is Expected to Become World’s Biggest Natural Gas Buyer by 2040


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  • China’s gas demand triples to 710 billion cubic meters by 2040 and accounts for nearly 30 percent of total demand growth in the period.
  • Global gas trade expands 2.3 percent annually -- underpinned by the evolution of the LNG market and a blurring line between exporters and importers.
    • “Various utilities, national and international oil companies, independent developers and trading houses are increasingly seeking to manage risk or create value from greater optimization and trading.”
  • LNG boosts its share of global market to almost 60 percent from 42 percent, “making the gas market much more global and interconnected.”
China Is Expected to Become World’s Biggest Natural Gas Buyer by 2040
  • Russia remains the largest single gas supplier to the EU, with a share in total imports at 37 percent in 2040

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