Data shows China's imports of Russian LNG steady in March despite overall decline

Illustration shows natural gas pipeline, Russian Rouble banknote and flag
A model of the natural gas pipeline is placed on Russian Rouble banknote and a flag in this illustration taken, March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

SINGAPORE, April 20 (Reuters) - China imported 321,380 tonnes of liquefied natural gas from Russia in March, steady from the same month last year, despite a steep fall in the country's total imports of the fuel due to high spot prices, according to Chinese customs data.

China imported nearly 400,000 tonnes from Russia in February, and 264,000 tonnes in January.

The imports in March mostly involved deals agreed before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

China's overall LNG imports last month fell 17% year-on-year to 4.63 million tonnes, the lowest in two years .

China regularly imports LNG cargoes from the Yamal project in the Russian Arctic, in which Chinese state-owned company CNPC and CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK) own stakes. But last month imports from the Sakhalin-2 project in Russia's far east accounted for 59% of China's imports from Russia.

China imported 190,000 tonnes of Sakhalin-2 LNG in March, tripling February's total, while there had been no purchase from that project in January, according to shipping tracking data from Refinitiv.

Sakhalin-2 is controlled and operated by Russian gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM). Other stakeholders are Shell, Japan's Mitsui & Co (8031.T) and Mitsubishi Corp (8058.T).

Shell announced on March 1, shortly after Russia began what it called "special military operation" on Ukraine, that it would exit all its Russian operations. read more

Japan, however, decided not to abandon the massive LNG project for the sake of its energy security.

(This April 20 story corrects headline and lead to say imports flat, not falling, and moves reference of decline in total imports from paragraph 3 to lead.)

Reporting by Chen Aizhu and Muyu Xu; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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