2017 was a key and challenging year for the Chinese gas sector. All indicators point to an acceleration of natural gas penetration in the energy mix and an intensification of gas market reforms to facilitate this expansion.
Boosted by the recovery of Chinese economic growth, the acceleration of coal-to-gas switching policies, and the rebound in the competitiveness of natural gas relative to competing fuels, China’s natural gas consumption reached a record high level. According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), natural gas consumption rose by 15.3% to 237.3 bcm in 2017. China was the world’s fastest growing gas market: the country alone accounted for a quarter of global growth in gas consumption.
Accelerated reforms and focused policies aimed at increasing the role of gas and renewables in the energy mix combine to improve the natural gas demand outlook of China and India.
As natural gas in China and India hardly competes with coal on a cost-basis, the substitution from coal to gas requires a strong support of policies and a fast pace of reforms. Past natural gas developments since 2000 in these two markets show very different trends, which attest to the key role of policy measures to support gas demand and supply.
In Cedigaz Scenario, substantial domestic production growth and the expansion of pipeline and LNG infrastructure will bolster growth in gas consumption across various sectors in India and China. Cedigaz prospects for gas demand in these countries are among the highest in the forecast ranges of the different institutions. Cedigaz integrates the objectives of China’s national energy plans. However, for India, natural gas demand projections and the share of gas in the energy mix fall short of the government’s ambitious targets. Cedigaz Scenario is also based on favourable assumptions as regards the advancement of market-oriented reforms in both the gas and electricity sectors.
The small-scale LNG market is rapidly growing on both the supply and demand side. Forecasts of growth to 2030 of up to 100 mt are widely shared, and there is a significant chance growth could far exceed this, with some forecasts for key sectors leading to a much higher overall demand.
SSLNG production and supply
Current SSLNG liquefaction capacity is estimated at 28mtpa. Supply infrastructure in terms of refuelling facilities for road and marine applications is becoming well established in China, and parts of Europe and North America, as well as some other markets around the world.
We expect small-scale liquefaction capacity to increase rapidly in coming years, particularly in markets where there is existing gas infrastructure and demand for LNG as a liquid fuel, or in areas where small-scale production provides an effective means of developing smaller gas resources. Small-scale liquefaction will face competition in LNG supplies from large-scale facilities, particularly regasification terminals. In addition, wider issues affecting the gas and LNG retail market in terms of the growth of LNG or alternative energy supplies from renewables or electric vehicles, will have a corresponding impact on small-scale liquefaction.