China's February LNG imports fell from January record as winter demand eased

A liquified natural gas (LNG) tanker leaves the dock after discharge at PetroChina's receiving terminal in Dalian, Liaoning province, China July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Chen Aizhu/Files

BEIJING (Reuters) - China imported 4.35 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in February, down from the previous month’s record level, the General Administration of Customs said on Saturday, as demand eased towards the end of the peak winter heating season.

But the amount of LNG China bought last month remained 9.7 percent more than the same month a year earlier, according to the customs data.

For the first two months, gas demand was up 19.7 percent from a year ago, to 10.92 million tonnes. China imported 6.58 million tonnes in January.

Asia’s spot prices for LNG crashed below the $5 per million British thermal unit mark this week, reflecting the absence of growth in demand or any major supply outages.

China’s LNG import will grow by 17 percent, or 9 million tonnes this year, according to a forecast from Wood Mackenzie. That compares with a 41 percent growth last year.

China’s total gas demand will grow by 30 billion cubic meters this year, also a 17 percent clip, supported by robust residential gas use, Huang Miaoru, gas analyst with Wood Mackenzie, told Reuters at China Energy Week on Thursday.

Reporting by Meng Meng and Dominique Patton; Editing by Tom Hogue