China December LNG Imports Rise 21% to a Record on Heating Need

China’s imports of liquefied natural gas in December surged to a record amid gains in the country’s industrial output.

LNG brought into the country increased to 1.83 million metric tons, 21 percent more than a year ago, according to data e-mailed by the General Administration of Customs today. This is 69 percent higher than in November, the largest monthly gain since September 2009.

Prices for the fuel in December climbed to $557 a ton from $556 in November, the customs data show.

LNG purchases increased as heating demand generated by colder weather boosted use of the fuel. Industrial output growth rose 10.3 percent in December for a fourth monthly gain, government data showed Jan. 18.

In 2012, China imported a record volume of 14.68 million tons of LNG, up 20.3 percent from 12.21 million a year earlier. The country last year paid $560 a ton, equivalent to $10.77 per million British thermal units, compared with $472 a ton in 2011.

China buys the bulk of its LNG under multi-year contracts from Indonesia, Malaysia, Qatar and Australia.

In December, China imported 1.54 million tons of natural gas by pipeline, a decline from November’s 1.61 million tons, the customs data show. The country paid $548 a ton for its piped natural gas, up from $517 in the earlier month. That’s equivalent to $10.54 per million British thermal units.

China brings in natural gas from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan through the Second West-East gas pipeline which is owned and operated by state-owned China National Petroleum Corp.

The company is building a Third West-East pipeline alongside the Second West-East Gas system.

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