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“When China awakes, she’ll shake the world.” Those words have been attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, although some historians are skeptical.[1] Whoever said them first, the words have proved prophetic in describing much of the global energy sector in recent years, from coal (China leads the world in production and consumption) to solar panels (China leads the world in manufacturing and deployment) to oil (China leads the world in imports). Yet in natural gas China remained almost a bit player, with a far more modest role in global markets.[2]

No more. In 2017, China was the world’s fastest-growing natural gas market. Consumption grew by 15%, more than twice the rate of economic growth. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports grew by a staggering 46%.[3] Government targets imply strong natural gas demand growth for at least the next decade—although infrastructure constraints could limit consumption in the medium term.

In this paper, we look at factors behind China’s thirst for natural gas and recent natural gas shortages. We then explore implications for China’s LNG demand, US-China trade and global climate goals.

Blue Skies, Big Ambitions

In 2017, natural gas accounted for roughly 7% of China’s primary energy consumption. This was much lower than in other major economies, including the United States (28%), the European Union (24%) and Japan (22%). More than two-thirds of natural gas in China is used in industry and buildings (mainly for heating). Very little natural gas is used in power generation, the primary gas-consuming sector in most major economies.[4]

In winter 2013, a long period of especially severe air pollution in China gained widespread attention and was labeled an “airpocalypse.” This experience led the Chinese government to dramatically increase the priority it gave to fighting air pollution. The National Action Plan on Air Pollution Prevention and Control, adopted in late 2013, set ambitious goals for reducing particulate emissions and other air pollutants. President Xi Jinping promised to “make China’s skies blue again.”[5]

Natural gas quickly became a central part of the Chinese government’s plan for fighting air pollution. The Chinese economy relies heavily on coal, which produces far more particulate matter and other pollutants per unit of energy than natural gas. Transitioning from coal to natural gas offers huge benefits in reducing soot and smog, as well as significant benefits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Owing mainly to air quality objectives, China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016–2020) set ambitious goals for increasing the use of natural gas, including almost doubling the share of gas in China’s primary energy mix in five years. The 13th Five-Year Plan calls for natural gas to provide up to 10% of China’s primary energy by 2020 and 15% by 2030.[6]

Ministries, provincial governments, local governments and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) followed up with a range of policies and measures. That included China’s first clean winter heating plan, which required 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region known as the “2+26” cities to clean up small coal-fired boilers, primarily by replacing them with natural gas–fired units. As a result of the push, an estimated 4 million households switched from coal to natural gas in the “2+26” cities. China’s latest clean heating plan, adopted in December 2017 for the period through 2021, targets the replacement of “dispersed coal boilers” in a wider area across northern China.[7]

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for the market to play a “decisive” role in allocating resources. Consistent with that, the Chinese government has undertaken a process of gradual price liberalization for natural gas. Gas prices for nonresidential customers were liberalized starting in 2015. In 2017 the government announced that third parties would receive access to pipelines and LNG import terminals. These reforms and others should help in meeting the government’s natural gas consumption and related clean air goals in the years ahead.

Cold Weather, Gas Shortages

During the winter of 2017–2018, much of northern China experienced significant natural gas shortages. With demand surging owing to the government’s ambitious coal-to-gas switching programs, supply was unable to keep up. Millions of homes were temporarily left without heat. One provincial capital suspended heating in government offices, hotels and shopping malls. Natural gas–fueled taxis and buses had to wait in long lines to fill up. Industrial output was scaled back to divert natural gas to emergency heating in homes and office buildings.[8]

Several factors contributed to China’s natural gas shortage last winter.

Limited storage capacity

China’s limited natural gas storage capacity contributed substantially to the shortages in winter 2017–2018. In most countries with significant seasonal variation in natural gas demand, such as China, the United States and many members of the European Union, seasonal gas storage plays an important role in ensuring adequate supplies during peak winter months. In China, however, storage capacity is inadequate to play a meaningful role in meeting peak demand. At the end of 2017, China’s underground natural gas storage capacity was 11.7 billion cubic meters (bcm), equivalent to about 5% of total consumption.[9] The same coverage ratio is around 17% in the United States and 27% in Europe.[10]

Overstretched LNG infrastructure

At the end of 2017, China had 16 operational LNG receiving terminals with 71 bcm of annual import capacity along the country’s east coast.[11] These terminals became highly overstretched in the peak winter months of December and January, with an average nationwide utilization rate above 105% and utilization at some northern terminals exceeding 120%.[12] Although some southern terminals operated comfortably at utilization rates of around 70%, the pipeline infrastructure to move natural gas from southern terminals to northern demand centers proved inadequate. To bridge this infrastructure gap, Chinese companies—notably CNOOC and Sinopec—dispatched hundreds of trucks to deliver LNG from receiving terminals in the south to cities in the north at distances of more than a thousand miles.[13] These truck deliveries reportedly came at a cost of more than $30 per MMBtu during the winter peak demand, nearly three times the spot LNG price during this period.[14]

Pipeline gas shortfalls

The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region relies heavily on pipeline gas from Central Asia for natural gas supplies. In the second half of 2017, pipeline gas deliveries from Turkmenistan fell substantially. Possible causes included stronger-than-anticipated demand growth and cold weather in Turkmenistan (leaving less natural gas for exports), unplanned outages at a gas processing facility, and—as at least one Chinese newspaper suggested—an attempt to negotiate better pricing terms amid the looming gas supply crunch in China.[15]

Chinese buyers attempted to offset the reduced volumes from Turkmenistan with more supply from Kazakhstan and—to a much lesser extent—Uzbekistan. CNPC rushed to bring natural gas wells online ahead of schedule at its Amu Darya project in Turkmenistan.[16] However, pipeline gas imports from Central Asia remained largely flat during the months of peak winter gas demand. These lower-than-expected volumes put considerable pressure on the natural gas market in northern China.

Cold temperatures

Winter weather in northeast China was also a bit cooler than the average of the three prior winters. Aggregate heating degree days—a commonly used measure of heating demand—in Beijing, for example, was approximately 7% higher in the winter months of 2017–2018 than the previous three years’ average during the winter heating season.[17]

Lack of market-based price signals

Despite several rounds of reform in recent years, China’s natural gas prices remain semiregulated. The lack of market-based price signals holds companies back from investing in underground storage facilities and other natural gas infrastructure. In liberalized gas markets across Europe and North America, price increases help market participants avoid physical fuel shortages by incentivizing them to invest in additional infrastructure, cut consumption or bring additional supplies to the market. In the absence of such market-based pricing mechanisms, regulators must keep the system in balance. As China’s winter gas shortage illustrates, that can be exceedingly challenging, especially during times of surging demand.

Lack of coordination

Before winter 2017–2018, the massive coal-to-gas switching initiative in northern China was led by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP). Natural gas supply and infrastructure development was led mostly by the National Energy Administration and a number of state-owned enterprises. Provincial and local authorities played important roles as well. Coordination among these players and others appears to have been inadequate. This became especially problematic when coal-to-gas switching in the residential sector in northern China exceeded the planned rate by nearly 25%.[18] In March 2018 a new Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) was established and given a substantially broader remit than MEP, reflecting the high priority that environmental issues have received in recent speeches by President Xi Jinping and others. This change may help address coordination challenges on some topics, such as water pollution and carbon emissions, however, MEE is not responsible for natural gas supply and infrastructure.[19]

Implications for LNG Demand

Global LNG markets are growing rapidly. Global LNG shipments grew by about 6.5% in 2016 and more than 10% in 2017.[20]

China’s ambitious goals to increase natural gas consumption could create significant additional LNG demand. In this section we examine four factors that will play a central role in determining China’s LNG requirements in the years ahead: domestic natural gas production, pipeline gas imports, natural gas storage capacity and LNG infrastructure constraints.

Domestic natural gas production

Historically, most of China’s natural gas supply has come from domestic production, almost all from conventional wells. In 2017, roughly 60% of China’s natural gas consumption came from domestic sources. Chinese natural gas production grew by an impressive 9% last year yet failed to keep up with the 15% annual growth in natural gas consumption. That gap is likely to continue in the years ahead. China’s conventional natural gas production could grow modestly in the near term, but not as much as consumption. In addition, the ability of conventional fields to deliver sustained growth over the longer term is probably limited.[21]

Unconventional gas—particularly shale gas—has significant long-term growth potential in China, but ramping up production from shale formations has been challenging. The government’s 2020 target for shale gas production was scaled back from 100 bcm per year in 2012 to 30 bcm per year in 2014.[22] Wood Mackenzie, a prominent energy consultancy, now predicts that only about 17 bcm per year of production from shale seems realistic by 2020, and even this would require a near doubling of current production in less than three years.[23] The challenges facing China’s shale producers—including difficult terrain, high costs, poor geology, long distance to markets and an SOE-dominated industry structure—remain formidable. The prospects for significant increases in Chinese shale gas production in the medium term are moderate at best.

China’s other sources of unconventional natural gas production—coalbed methane (CBM) and coal gasification (CTG)—are less material over the long run. They depend on provincial subsidies (in the case of CBM) or come at a heavy cost to the environment (in the case of CTG).

China’s domestic supply of natural gas over the longer term may be driven more by shale gas production than other sources. But the experience so far suggests that the growth of shale in China will not be nearly as rapid or transformational as in the United States. The gap between China’s natural gas consumption and domestic production is expected to substantially widen in the medium term, as demand growth far outpaces domestic supply growth in any plausible scenario.[24]

Pipeline gas imports

China currently imports natural gas through two pipeline systems: the Central Asia gas pipeline (from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) and the China-Myanmar pipeline. A natural gas pipeline from the Russian Far East is currently under construction.

The potential for increased pipeline gas imports from Central Asia appears limited in the short term and highly uncertain over the long term. Last year 39 bcm of natural gas was delivered,[25] well below the system’s 55 bcm per year capacity. Turkmenistan’s inability or unwillingness to increase deliveries last winter—notwithstanding repeated pleas by Chinese officials—suggests that prospects for additional supplies may be poor, owing in part to Turkmenistan’s own growing domestic requirements.[26] Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have some potential to increase pipeline gas deliveries to China, but ramping up natural gas production in those countries will take time. Incremental volumes in the next few years will likely be small.

A fourth pipeline from Central Asia, known as Line D, is under discussion, but its prospects are uncertain. Line D would add another 30 bcm per year import capacity from Turkmenistan to China via Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Construction started on the pipeline in 2014, but the project was delayed in 2016,[27] and then eventually suspended altogether in 2017.[28] Although earlier this year reports started to emerge that CNPC intended to speed up the project and that construction on the pipeline’s Tajik and Kyrgyz sections could soon resume, progress toward reviving the Line D project on the Turkmen and Uzbek sides of the border have been limited.[29] Given the remaining uncertainties around construction and timing, as well as the technical difficulties due to the mountainous terrain, the Line D project is expected to start deliveries in 2023 at the earliest,[30] if the project is ultimately completed at all.

The potential for increased natural gas imports through the China-Myanmar pipeline also appears to be limited. Deliveries have fallen short of the 5.2 bcm annual contract volume, owing in part to rising demand in Myanmar and the limited availability of natural gas for exports. Pipeline gas from Myanmar is also among the highest-cost supply options for China at the moment.[31] A material increase of imports from this direction seems unlikely.

Perhaps the most important change in China’s natural gas supply mix over the next five years will be the start of deliveries via the Power of Siberia pipeline, which will connect Russia’s largely untapped gas reserves in Eastern Siberia with China’s northeastern provinces.[32] Work on the project progressed slowly in the period leading up to 2017, when Russian pipeline gas seemed expensive and the LNG market appeared to be heading for a long period of oversupply. But last year CNPC decided to accelerate construction on the Chinese side of the border.[33] The Power of Siberia pipeline is now back on schedule, with deliveries projected to start by the end of 2019.[34]

Although the 38 bcm per year of contracted volume on the Power of Siberia line is significant, the ramp-up to full capacity could stretch well into the mid-2020s. Moreover, as Russia’s eastern gas fields will most likely have limited ability to adjust production seasonally, the role of providing seasonal gas supply flexibility for China will continue to fall primarily on LNG, even after the start of Russian pipeline gas deliveries.

Overall, pipeline deliveries have limited room to grow until 2020. Larger volumes—mainly from the Russian Far East—will ramp up only gradually between 2020 and 2025.

Natural gas storage

China urgently needs more natural gas storage to manage significant seasonal demand variations. Government plans call for increasing natural gas storage capacity from roughly 12 bcm today to 15 bcm by 2020 and 35 bcm by 2030.[35] In order to achieve those goals, the Chinese government last year began requiring Chinese natural gas companies to build and maintain storage facilities. Upstream companies are required to build storage capacity equal to 10% of their annual contracted sales volume and midstream companies (including city gas distributors) are required to provide storage equal to 5% of annual consumption in their respective service areas. Companies have several years to meet these requirements.[36]

The financial returns on natural gas storage facilities in China are low. Regulated city-gate prices suppress the seasonal price signals that could incentivize private companies to invest in gas storage. In part for that reason, plans for increasing natural gas storage rely mainly on state-owned enterprises fulfilling the requirements discussed above.[37]

Although work is underway to expand China’s natural gas storage as a matter of priority, expansion to European or US levels of demand coverage seems unlikely even in the longer term.[38] China’s geology is an obstacle. Depleted oil and gas fields, the most commonly used geological features for seasonal storage, are less prevalent in China than in North America, for example. Many potential natural gas storage sites in China are located deep underground, close to densely populated areas or in mountainous regions, which raises safety risks and technical complexity.[39] Technical expertise in building new facilities in complex formations is reportedly also in short supply.[40]

If government targets for both natural gas storage capacity and natural gas consumption are met, storage will reach 6% of consumption in 2030, by one estimate,[41] as compared to just over 5% today.[42]

LNG infrastructure

Chinese natural gas demand is surging. Government targets call for significant increases in consumption (from 7% of primary energy today to 10% in 2020 and 15% in 2030).[43] Domestic production and pipeline imports are unlikely to provide sufficient supply. The lack of adequate storage capacity will require flexible supply for times of peak demand. The combination of these factors suggests a substantial growth of Chinese LNG demand.

A survey of recent industry forecasts indicates that analysts generally expect China’s LNG demand to reach 80 to 147 mtpa (109 to 200 bcm per year) by 2030—roughly two to four times greater than the 38 mtpa consumed in 2017 (see figure 1). In the majority of forecasts, China overtakes Japan (which imported 84 mtpa of LNG last year) as the world’s largest LNG importing country in the mid- to late 2020s, although this happens much sooner in some forecasts.

Will China’s LNG import infrastructure be sufficient to accommodate this demand?

LNG receiving terminals are the first bottleneck. Many were running significantly over capacity in the winter of 2017–2018. To address this problem, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is giving priority to approvals of LNG import terminals and Chinese companies are adding new LNG import capacity at a rapid pace. Five new or expanded regasification terminals are scheduled to enter service in 2018 alone. Several additional terminals are under construction or expanding capacity, with projected online dates between 2019 and 2021. In all, China’s LNG import capacity could increase by half through the early 2020s.[44]

Pipelines are the second bottleneck. Only a fraction of China’s new import capacity is in the most overstretched northern regions, which means that the parallel development of the domestic gas pipeline network remains a key enabler of substantially higher LNG imports in the winters to come. NDRC plans call for an expansion of China’s natural gas pipeline network by 99,000 km (or about 60,000 miles) between 2015 and 2025. Integrated LNG terminal and pipeline planning is a growing trend, in particular to facilitate movement of natural gas from south to north.[45]

China’s LNG import capacity constraints are being removed. Challenges may persist for the next year or two, but many market participants believe that new regasification capacity and pipelines will be sufficient to accommodate growing LNG import volumes in the near future.[46]

Implications for US-China trade

In 2017, the United States’ trade deficit with China was $375 billion.[47] President Trump has identified reducing that deficit as a priority. Could natural gas exports from the United States to China play a material role in reducing the US-China trade deficit?

The short answer is no. In 2017, the total value of US LNG exports to China was $424 million according to US Census data and $644 million according to Chinese customs data—between 0.1% and 0.2% of the bilateral trade deficit.[48] US-China LNG trade could grow substantially in the years ahead, delivering considerable benefits for both countries, but could not exceed 10% of the current US-China trade deficit during the next four years as an extreme upper bound. Actual amounts will likely be much smaller.

The math is straightforward. US LNG export capacity today is 3.1 Bcf per day. That figure will increase to roughly 9.1 Bcf per day by 2020 and perhaps to 9.7 Bcf per day by 2022. (LNG export terminals take three to five years to build, so maximum potential LNG export capacity through 2022 is known with high confidence.) As of early June 2018, LNG prices in the Asian market were roughly $10 per MMBtu.[49] Even if all US LNG exports went to China and Asian prices remained at $10 per MMBtu (which would be nearly 50% higher than the previous three years’ average), total annual LNG exports to China would be in the range of $35 billion in 2020 and $37 billion in 2022 (or about 9%–10% of last year’s US-China trade deficit).[50] However, most US LNG exports will not go to China, so the actual figures will likely be much lower. The impact on the US-China trade deficit will be modest at most.

That is not to say US-China LNG sales are insignificant from a commercial standpoint. To the contrary, these sales could provide substantial commercial benefits to companies in both countries.

For US LNG exporters, China is an important market. Indeed, China is the third-largest destination for US LNG, receiving one in every seven cargoes over the past two years. With China projected to become the world’s largest LNG importer in the next decade,[51] Chinese companies will continue to be important potential customers.

In addition, long-term contracts with Chinese companies could play an important role in financing new US LNG export projects. Raising billions of dollars for such projects typically requires long-term contracts for a significant portion of the planned capacity to secure project finance debt.[52] Chinese companies are important prospects for long-term LNG contracts in the years ahead. The first such contract between a US supplier and a Chinese buyer was signed by Cheniere Energy and CNPC earlier this year. The two companies contracted for a total volume of 1.2 mtpa (1.6 bcm per year) of LNG, with some deliveries starting in 2018 and some in 2023 for a period of 25 years and 20 years, respectively.[53] The agreement was instrumental in helping Cheniere Energy reach a final investment decision (FID) on the Corpus Christi Train 3 expansion project,[54] the first FID on a US LNG project since 2015.

US-China LNG sales offer important benefits for Chinese companies as well. Flexible spot LNG purchases from US exporters are well suited to fill seasonal supply gaps in China, as the increased deliveries in the winter of 2017–2018 indicate. US LNG purchases under long-term contracts could also help China meet its growing structural demand for natural gas. Although the full cost of new US LNG delivered to Asia is slightly higher today than the cost of LNG from other major suppliers, the transparent Henry Hub–based pricing of US LNG is a significant benefit for Chinese buyers, helping reduce reliance on traditional oil-linked LNG contracts. US LNG offers supply diversification and energy security benefits for China as well. (Last year two-thirds of China’s LNG came from just two suppliers—Australia and Qatar.)[55]

Although commercial fundamentals suggest there is potential for growing US-China LNG trade, political risks could slow that growth. As of this writing, US-China LNG sales have not been directly limited by broader US-China trade tensions. However, in response to the Trump administration’s June 15, 2018, announcement of tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced it will impose tariffs on other US energy products, including crude oil, gasoline, naphtha, fuel oil and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).[56] President Trump’s statement that “trade wars are good and easy to win” and the Chinese government’s tendency to respond to tariffs with retaliatory measures suggest a real risk that US-China trade tensions could significantly escalate in the months and years ahead. US-China LNG trade could be adversely affected by such tensions.

Another set of political risks comes from the Trump administration’s willingness to reverse US policy on international agreements (such as the Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate accord) and disrupt longstanding alliances (such as with members of the G7). Before signing long-term LNG purchase contracts, importers evaluate the dependability of an exporting country’s government, assessing the risk that the government will interfere with those contracts. Although the Trump administration has been full throated in support of LNG exports to China to date, its lack of respect for prior US agreements and alliances raises concerns in many countries about the durability of US government support for any policy. A recent commentary described one of the main advantages of Canadian LNG as providing “the stability of North America without the […] complex politics of the United States, which could […] entangle [US LNG] projects with broader trade and geopolitical considerations.”[57]

Implications for Global Climate Goals

Natural gas can play an important role in helping China meet its climate goals. The Chinese government is firmly committed to the Paris climate agreement and has pledged to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, making best efforts to peak earlier. It has also pledged to cut carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60%–65% from 2005 levels by 2030. Replacing coal with natural gas can help significantly in meeting these pledges, since natural gas produces about half the carbon dioxide per unit of energy as coal when burned. Natural gas is an especially good substitute for coal in many applications, including in particular for generating heat in industrial processes and in buildings. The growth and development of China’s natural gas sector can play an important role in meeting China’s climate goals and contributing to global climate change mitigation.

There is one caveat: leaks in the course of production and distribution of natural gas could significantly diminish the climate change benefits of using natural gas to replace coal. Methane—the principal component of natural gas—is itself a powerful greenhouse gas. As a rough rule of thumb, if more than 3%–8% of the natural gas consumed as an energy source leaks, that would cancel the greenhouse gas benefits of switching from coal to natural gas. Leaking natural gas infrastructure is also economically wasteful, giving many market participants a direct financial incentive for avoiding it. As China scales up its natural gas infrastructure, attention to detecting and preventing methane leaks will be important.[58]


Natural gas will play a growing role in China’s energy mix in the years ahead, as a core part of the Chinese leadership’s strategy for responding to serious environmental challenges, including urban air pollution and climate change. Domestic production and pipeline imports will be unable to keep up with rapidly growing demand, leaving LNG imports to fill the gap. Infrastructure constraints may limit LNG imports in the short term but will likely be resolved within several years.

The impact of LNG trade on the US-China bilateral trade deficit will be modest at most. Nevertheless, that trade could offer benefits to companies in both countries if trade tensions do not interfere.

China is shaking up natural gas markets as it emerges as the world’s leading LNG importer in the next decade. Chinese LNG demand will be instrumental in investment in LNG supply around the world, including—potentially—the United States. Chinese natural gas could also deliver significant environmental benefits both in China and globally, although there are risks with respect to methane leakage that must be addressed.

As in other parts of the energy sector, as the giant awakens, the world will notice.


At the Center on Global Energy Policy David Sandalow is the Inaugural Fellow and Founding Director of the US-China Program, Akos Losz is a Senior Research Associate, and Sheng Yan is Deputy Director for China. The views represented in this commentary represent those of the authors. This work was made possible by support from the Center on Global Energy Policy. More information is available at




[1] See Isaac Stone Fish, “Crouching Tiger, Sleeping Giant,” Foreign Policy (January 19, 2016),

[3] BP Statistical Review of World Energy (June 2018); Takeshi Kumon, “China’s newfound LNG appetite drives up Asian energy costs,” Nikkei Asian Review (February 4, 2018),

[4] BP Statistical Review of World Energy (June 2018); Anders Hove and David Sandalow, “Understanding China’s Growing Natural Gas Sector,” Paulson Institute (September 14, 2017),

[5] See Yana Jin, Henrik Anderson and Shiqiu Zhang, “Air Pollution Control Policies in China: A Retrospective and Prospective,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (December 2016),; China Daily, “Speech Delivered by Xi Jinping at the First Session of the 13th NPC” (March 21, 2018),; State Council of the People’s Republic of China, “国务院关于印发大气污染防治行动计划的通知” (September 2013),

[6] National Development and Reform Commission, “国家发改委关于印发石油天然气发展“十三五”规划的通知” [Notice of Oil and Gas Five-Year Plan] (December 24, 2016),; Zhang Xinyi, Fan Ruohong and Fran Wang, “China Tightens Its Commitment to Use of Natural Gas,” CaiXin (July 7, 2017),

[7] See Ministry of Ecology and Environment, “关于印发《京津冀及周边地区2017年大气污染防治工作方案》的通知” [Notice on Establishment of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei 2017 Air Pollution Control Work Plan] (March 23, 2017),; 河北省环境保护厅 [Hebei Province Department of Environmental Protection], “环境保护部部长在2018年全国环境保护工作会议上的讲话” [Speech by Minister Li Ganjie on National Environmental Protection Working Meeting] (February 2, 2018), (4 million households).

[8] “China’s Gas Push Bites as Winter’s Arrival Brings Fuel Shortages” Bloomberg News (November 28, 2017),; Hudson Lockett, “Gas Shortage forces Chinese city to end heating at government buildings,” Financial Times (December 19, 2017),; Lucy Hornby and Archie Zhang, “China hit by gas shortages as it moves away from coal,” Financial Times (December 3, 2017),

[9] Sarah Chen, “CNPC Says Market Reform Needed to Expand Gas Storage in China,” Bloomberg News (April 26, 2018), accessed via the Bloomberg terminal on May 22, 2018.

[10] Cedigaz and BP Statistical Review data; Sylvie Cornot-Gandolphe, “Underground Gas Storage in the World – 2017 Status,” Cedigaz Insights no. 22 (July 2017),

[11] International Group of LNG Importers (GIIGNL), “The LNG Industry: GIIGNL Annual Report 2018 Edition” (April 2018) at p.37,

[12] Utilization rates calculated based on data accessed via Bloomberg terminal. See US Energy Information Administration, “China becomes world’s second largest LNG importer, behind Japan” (February 23, 2018),

[13] “As China gas crunch grows, CNOOC hires 100-truck convoy to ship LNG to icy north,” Reuters (December 15, 2017),; Interfax Global Energy, “Beihai terminal begins trucked LNG deliveries to Zibo city” (January 5, 2018), China has a large fleet of about 10,000 LNG delivery trucks, but these typically deliver LNG within an approximately 300-mile supply radius around China’s import terminals. Mike Corkhill, “Chinese LNG terminals hit record utilization rates,” LNG World Shipping (March 8, 2018),,chinese-lng-terminals-hit-record-utilisation-rates_51033.htm.

[14] “LNG Landscape: Is China changing the outlook for LNG supply/demand balance,” Citi Research (January 4, 2018) at p.2.

[15] “China’s Old Gas Allies Fail to Meet Demand Boom in Winter,” Bloomberg News (February 25, 2018),; “China searches for solutions after being hit by natural gas shortage,” Global Times (January 3, 2018),

[16] Aizhu Chen and Meng, “Turkmen November gas supplies to China slide versus October amid winter supply crunch: customs data,” Reuters (December 26, 2017),

[17] Data accessed via Bloomberg terminal on June 1, 2018, comparing aggregate heating degree days in 4Q17 and 1Q18 with average of prior three years during the same two quarters.

[18] Ministry of Ecology and Environment, “关于印发《京津冀及周边地区2017年大气污染防治工作方案》的通知” [Notice on Establishment of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei 2017 Air Pollution Control Work Plan] (March 23, 2017); Sohu News, “煤改气”之后的反思,我们是不是太着急了?” [Are we running too fast, rethink after ‘Coal to Gas’] (December 11, 2017),; 北极星大气网, “环境保护部部长在2018年全国环境保护工作会议上的讲话” [Speech by Minister Li Ganjie on National Environmental Protection Working Meeting] (February 2, 2018),

[19] Josephine Mason and Benjamin Kang Lim, “Exclusive: China plants to create energy ministry in government shake-up-sources,” Reuters (March 8, 2018),

[20] “BP Statistical Review of World Energy” (June 2018).

[21] National Development and Reform Commission, “国家发改委关于印发石油天然气发展“十三五”规划的通知” [Notice of the National Development and Reform Commission on Printing and Distributing the 13th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Oil and Gas](December 24, 2016),

[22] David Sandalow, Jingchao Wu, Qing Yang, Anders Hove and Junda Lin, “Meeting China’s Shale Gas Goals,” Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy (September 2014) at pp.5–6,; “China finds shale gas challenging, halves 2020 output target,” Reuters (August 7, 2014),

[23] Edward White, “China to miss shale production target by ‘considerable margin’: report,” Financial Times (April 16, 2018),

[24] National Development and Reform Commission, “国家发改委关于印发石油天然气发展“十三五”规划的通知” [Notice of the National Development and Reform Commission on Printing and Distributing the 13th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Oil and Gas] (December 24, 2016).

[25] Data accessed via Bloomberg terminal on June 1, 2018. Data source: National Bureau of Statistics, Chinese customs data.

[26] “Turkmenistan Moves Ahead With First GTL Projects,” News Base (April 11, 2018),

[27] Casey Michel, “Line D of the Central Asia-China Gas Pipeline Delayed,” The Diplomat (May 31, 2016),

[28] Casey Michel, “The Central Asia-China Gas Pipeline Network: Line D(ead),” The Diplomat (March 21, 2017),

[29] Dawn Lee, “China Prefers LNG to Piped Gas Imports,” World Gas Intelligence (February 7, 2018), accessed on June 4, 2018, via Factiva; John Roberts, “Turkmenistan: the pursuit of new markets,” Energy Economist (March 1, 2018), accessed on June 4, 2018, via Factiva; Bruce Pannier, “Why Didn’t Turkman, Uzbek Leaders Mention ‘Line D’ to China?,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (April 27, 2018),

[30] “China LNG demand: be bullish (but maybe not a MEGA bull),” Credit Suisse (February 9, 2018) at p.2.

[31] See, for example, “China Gas: Highest Growth, Expanding Role,” Morgan Stanley Research (April 18, 2018), at pp.34 and 40; also see “China Integrated Natural Gas: Is gas price reform alive, pipeline separation dead?” UBS Global Research (March 6, 2018) at p.18.

[32] Tim Boersma, Tatiana Mitrova and Akos Losz, “A Changing Global Gas Order 2.0,” Center on Global Energy Policy (April 23, 2018) at p.9,

[33] Dominique Patton and Denis Dyomkin, “Gazprom to start gas supplies to China via Siberia in December 2019,” Reuters (July 4, 2017),

[34] Dina Khrennikova, “Russia’s Gazprom plans to start long-term gas supply to China in 2019,” S&P Global (September 1, 2014),

[35] Dan Murtaugh, “China Needs More Space Underground to Store Gas,” Bloomberg News (March 20, 2018),

[36] Author interviews (June 2018).

[37] Chen, “CNPC Says Market Reform Needed” (April 26, 2018), accessed via the Bloomberg terminal on May 22, 2018; Chen Aizhu, “After winter gas crunch, China Pumps for underground storage,” Reuters (April 11, 2018),

[38] As noted above, China’s underground natural gas storage capacity was equivalent to about 5% of total consumption in 2017. The same ratio is roughly 17% in the United States and 27% in Europe.

[39] Aizhu, “After winter gas crunch” (April 11, 2018).

[40] Credit Suisse, “China LNG demand” (February 9, 2018) at p.7.

[41] Murtaugh, “China Needs More Space” (March 19, 2018).

[42] Chen, “CNPC Says Market Reform Needed” (April 26, 2018), accessed via the Bloomberg terminal on June 21, 2018; also see Chen Aizhu, “China’s CNPC plans internal consolidation to fast-track gas storage upgrade –officials,” Reuters (June 1, 2018),

[43] National Development and Reform Commission, “国家发改委关于印发石油天然气发展“十三五”规划的通知” [Notice of Oil and Gas Five-Year Plan] (December 24, 2016); Zhang Xinyi, Fan Ruohong and Fran Wang, “China Tightens Its Commitment” (July 7, 2017).

[44] “Global LNG: The glut abates, the crunch awaits,” HSBC Research (March 2018) at p.42; “Producers in the Driving Seat,” Goldman Sachs Commodities Research (May 15, 2018) at p.21; author interviews.

[45] National Development and Reform Commission, “国家发改委关于印发石油天然气发展“十三五”规划的通知” [Notice of the National Development and Reform Commission on Printing and Distributing the 13th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Oil and Gas] (December 24, 2016),; author interviews.

[46] Author interviews. Also see “China Gas: Highest Growth, Expanding Role,” Morgan Stanley Research (April 18, 2018) at p.38.

[47] “Trade in Goods with China,” United States Census Bureau (accessed June 18, 2018),

[48] The difference between the two figures is likely due to the fact that US Census data recorded LNG sales at the cost at which US LNG offtakers lifted the cargoes in the United States, while Chinese customs data recorded imports at the price at which these offtakers resold cargoes to Chinese buyers on the LNG spot market. For US data, see United States Census Bureau, “U.S. Exports to China by 5-digit End-Use Code 2008 – 2017” (accessed June 19, 2018), Chinese data accessed via Bloomberg terminal on June 15, 2018. The official news release can be found at “海关总署介绍2017年全年进出口情况” (January 12, 2018),

[49] Eriko Amaha, “Platts JKM LNG cargoes for July rise 40 cents to $10.0/MMBtu on tight supply, short-covering,” S&P Global (June 8, 2018),

[50] For this simple thought experiment, we assume that all operational US LNG terminals will run at full capacity throughout the year. We converted billion cubic feet to MMBtu using conversion factors provided by the US Energy Information Administration at According to the EIA, 1 cubic foot of natural gas equals 1,037 Btu.

[51] See, for example, “China is set to become the largest importer of LNG by 2021,” JP Morgan Research (June 15, 2018).

[52] There are some notable exceptions. Golden Pass is developed by ExxonMobil, Qatar Petroleum and ConocoPhillips, companies with enough balance sheet strength that the project can be balance sheet financed. Tellurian is proposing a novel all-equity-based financing model, which would circumvent the traditional project finance-based approach.

[53] “UPDATE2- Cheniere closer to expanding Texas LNG site after China deal,” Reuters (February 9, 2018),

[54] Julie Gordon, “UPDATE 1- Cheniere moves ahead with Corpus Christi LNG expansion,” Reuters (May 22, 2018),

[55] See International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2017 (November 2017) at p. 381; BP Statistical Review of World Energy (June 2018); Anna Kachkova, “Looking to the Future,” News Base (April 26, 2018),; Jiaqu Lu and Ye Qi, “US Gas to China: Positive energy for bilateral relations,” Brookings (May 31, 2018), also Melanie Hart, Luke Bassett and Blaine Johnson, “Do Not Fall for the Hype on U.S. – China Natural Gas Trade,” Center for American Progress (April 18, 2018), (questioning the value of US-China LNG trade to both countries).

[56] Oceana Zhou, Brian Scheid and Jeff Mower, “FACTBOX: China threatens 25% tariff on US energy, agricultural products,” S&P Global (June 17, 2018),; Ryan Collins, “What’s Not on China’s Tariff List? Smog-Controlling U.S. Gas,” Bloomberg News (June 18, 2018),

[57] Nikos Tsafos, “Canadian Gas Fights Back,” Center for Strategic & International Studies (May 24, 2018),

[58] Methane breaks down more quickly than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, making precise comparisons a bit complicated. Experts consider methane to be roughly 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas over a 20-year period and 28 times more powerful over a 100-year period. See Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report, (2015) at p.87,; International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2017 (November 2017) at pp.416–417; Daniel Raimi, The Fracking Debate, Columbia University Press (2017) at p.111.




大卫·桑德罗, Akos Losz,及颜胜*








然而这一形势正在迅速发生改变。 2017年,中国是全球增长最快的天然气市场,消费增长15%,是经济增长率的两倍多。 液化天然气(LNG)进口惊人地增长了46%。[3] 政府的政策目标意味着至少在未来十年内,中国的天然气需求将强劲增长 ——尽管基础设施的不足一定程度上会限制短期和中期的天然气消费增长。


在本文中,我们将讨论中国对天然气需求激增的原因和近期天然气短缺背后的因素。 此外,我们还将探讨中国液化天然气需求对中美贸易和全球气候目标的影响。




2017年,天然气约占中国一次能源消费的7%,这远低于包括美国(28%),欧盟(24%)和日本(22%)在内的其他主要经济体。 中国超过三分之二的天然气用于工业和建筑(主要用于供暖)。 中国在发电中使用的天然气很少,然而这却是大多数经济体的主要的天然气消费行业。[4]


2013年冬季,中国长期以来严重的空气污染问题得到了广泛的关注,中国的空气污染甚至被一些人称为“空气末日”。这一系列事件使中国政府大幅度提高了对抗空气污染的力度。 2013年底中国通过了《国家空气污染防治行动计划》,为减少颗粒物和其他空气污染物排放制定了雄心勃勃的目标。 习近平主席承诺“要让中国的天空再次变蓝”。[5]





为了提升空气质量,中国的“十三五规划”(2016 - 2020年)为增加使用天然气的使用量制定了雄心勃勃的目标。其中包括五年内天然气在中国一次能源消费中的份额翻一番。 “十三五”规划还要求天然气在2020年前占中国一次能源的10%,到2030年将占15%。[6]

各部委、省政府、地方政府和国有企业均采取了一系列政策措施。 其中包括中国首个清洁冬季采暖计划,该计划要求京津冀地区的28个城市 (“2 + 26”城市)清理小型燃煤锅炉,并主要以天然气燃气机组来替代。 由于这一政策的推动,在“2 + 26”中城市已有约400万户家庭从煤转为天然气。 中国最新的清洁采暖计划于2017年12月通过,并将生效至2021年底。其目标是在中国北部更广泛的地区更换“分散式燃煤锅炉”。[7]






在17年底和18年初的这个冬季,中国北方的大部分地区都经历了严重的天然气短缺。 政府雄心勃勃的“煤改气”计划导致天然气需求激增,然而供应却无法跟上。 数百万房屋陷入了供暖中断的窘境。 某省会城市甚至停止了在政府办公室、酒店和购物中心供;以天然气为燃料的出租车和公共汽车在油气站门口排起了长龙;工业产出不得不紧急缩减,从而确保天然气供应用于家庭和办公楼的供暖。[8]






中国有限的天然气储气能力是上个冬季天然气短缺的主要原因。 在大多数对天然气需求季节性变化较大的国家,如中国、美国和许多欧盟成员国,具有调峰功能的季节性储气设施在确保冬季高峰期充足供应方面发挥着重要作用。 但是,中国现阶段天然气存储能力仍远不足以满足高峰期的能源需求。 2017年底,中国的地下天然气储存量为117亿立方米(相当于总消费量的约5%)。[9] 这一数字,在美国约为17%,而欧洲则为27%。[10]




截止2017年底,中国在东部沿海地区有16个运营中的LNG接收终端,年进口量达到710亿立方米。[11] 在12月和1月的高峰期,这些接收站变得超负荷,全国平均使用率高于105%,一些在中国北方的接收站的利用率甚至一度超过120%。[12] 尽管一些在中国南方的接收站在使用率方面运行顺利,使用率约为70%,然而将天然气从南方的接收站转移到北部需求中心的管道基础设施仍然不足。 为弥补这一基础设施缺口,中国公司,特别是中海油和中石化 ,不得不派出数百辆卡车,将LNG从南部的接收站运送到距离超过1000公里的北部城市。[13] 据报道,在冬季高峰需求期间,利用卡车交货的成本超过30美元/MMBtu,是此期间现货液化天然气价格的近三倍。[14]




京津冀地区严重依赖中亚管道天然气的供应。 2017年下半年,土库曼斯坦的管道输气量大幅下降。可能的原因包括土库曼斯坦的需求增长超出预期和天气的寒冷(可出口天然气量减少),天然气加工厂的意外停机大修,以及,如同一些中国媒体所披露的,在中国天然气供应的紧张情况下,卖方试图谈判寻求更好的价格条款。[15]






中国东北地区的冬季天气也较前三个冬季的平均稍冷一些。 例如,在北京,总采暖度日数(通常用于衡量供热需求)在2017到2018年的冬季月份比冬季采暖季节前三年的平均值高出约7%。[17]




尽管近几年来进行了几轮改革,中国的天然气价格仍处于半管制的状态。 缺乏以市场为基础的价格信号使相关企业不愿投资地下储存设施和其他天然气基础设施。 在欧洲和北美的自由化天然气市场中,价格上涨可以鼓励市场参与者投资额外的基础设施,削减消耗或为市场带来更多的供应,从而避免天然气的短缺。 在没有这种基于市场的定价机制的情况下,监管机构必须保持系统的平衡。 中国冬季天然气的短缺表明,由监管机构保持系统平衡可能非常具有挑战性,特别是在一些需求激增的时候。








全球LNG市场正在迅速增长。 2016年全球LNG出货量增长约6.5%,2017年增长10%以上。[20]


中国扩大天然气消费的宏伟目标可能会带来额外的LNG需求。 本节将讨论并探究四个决定未来几年中国LNG需求的因素:国内天然气生产,管道天然气进口,天然气储存能力和LNG基础设施的限制。




从历史上看,中国大部分天然气供应来自国内生产,几乎全部来自常规井的开采。 2017年,中国约有60%的天然气消耗来自国内自产。 去年,中国天然气产量显著增长了9%,但仍未能跟上天然气消费年增长15%的速度。 未来几年这种差距可能会持续下去。 中国的常规天然气产量在短期内可能适度增长,但还远不及消费量的增长。 此外,传统油气井的持续增长能力可能较为有限。[21]


非常规天然气——特别是页岩气,在中国具有显着的长期增长潜力,但是页岩地层开采一直面临着挑战。 中国政府对2020年页岩气产量的目标从2012年的每年1000亿立方米降至2014年的每年300亿立方米。[22]著名能源咨询公司Wood Mackenzie预测,中国的页岩年产量到2020年只有约170亿立方米。即使这样,中国也需要在不到三年的时间内,将目前的产量翻一番。[23]中国页岩开发商面临的挑战依然艰巨,其中包括地形复杂,成本高,地质条件差,运输遥远以及国有企业主导的行业结构。 中国页岩气产量在短期和中期最乐观的预测下也只是适中的增长。


长期来看,中国其他非传统天然气的生产来源——煤层气(CBM)和煤气化(CTG)的长期前景也较为有限。 它们依赖于省级补贴(就煤层气而言)或者会对环境造成严重伤害(以CTG为例)。


相对于其他来源来讲,国内天然气中长期的供应可能还是更多地受页岩气产量的驱动。 但就现今的经验表明,中国页岩的增长速度不会像美国那样迅速。 预计天然气消费与国内生产之间的差距将在中期内大幅扩大,因为在任何可能的情况下,国内天然气需求增长远远超过国内供应增长。[24]












未来5年,中国天然气供应结构的最重要变化,或许将是通过“西伯利亚力量”(Power of Siberia)管道开始供应的来自俄罗斯的管道天然气进口。这条管道将把俄罗斯在东西伯利亚尚未开采的天然气储量,与中国东北省份连接起来。[32]从项目开始建设到2017年的这段时间里,该项目进展缓慢。彼时,俄罗斯的管道天然气似乎很昂贵,而LNG市场似乎正走向长期供应过剩。但去年,中石油决定加快在中国边境的管道建设。[33]西伯利亚力量管道现在已经回到了计划中,预计将在2019年底开始交付。[34]









中国迫切需要更多的天然气储备来应对重大的季节性需求变化。政府计划将天然气储存能力从目前的约12亿立方米在2020年提高到15亿立方米,在2030提高到35亿立方米。[35]为了实现这些目标,中国政府从去年开始要求中国的天然气公司建造和维护储存设施。上游公司需要保证其储气能力为年合同销售量的10%,中游公司 (包括城市燃气公司) 需要在各自的服务区域具有相当于其年消费量的5%的储气能力。这些公司将有几年的时间来满足这些要求。[36]










中国的天然气需求在快速上升。政府对天然气消费目标要求显著增加(目标从现在在第一能源消费中所占比例的7%提高到2020年的10%,直到2030年的15%)。[43] 然而,目前国内生产和管道进口无法提供足够的供应。 由于缺乏足够的天然气储气能力,中国需要灵活的供应,满足高峰期的需求。这一系列因素表明中国LNG的需求将会大幅增长。

一份近期行业预测的调查中,分析人士普遍认为到2030年,中国LNG需求量会达到每年8000万吨至1.47亿吨(1090 到2000亿立方米),与2017年消耗的380万吨相比(见图1)高出2至4倍。 大多数市场研究机构的预测表示,中国会在2020年左右超越日本(日本去年进口LNG为8.4千万吨)成为世界上最大的LNG进口国 ,而有一些预测认为中国甚至会在2020年前赶超日本。



图1  中国LNG需求量预测比较




LNG接收能力是第一个瓶颈。2017年底和2018年初的冬季,许多接收站已明显出现短期超负荷运转的情况。为解决这一问题,国家发改委已在优先批准进口LNG接收站的建设,而中国企业也在快速增加LNG的进口能力。 仅在2018年,五个新建、扩容的接收站会按计划投入使用。 除此之外,另有几个接收站正在建设或扩容中,预计会在2019年至2021年上线。总体而言,中国的液化天然气进口能力在2020年左右可以增加50%以上。[44]


管道天然气基础设施是第二个瓶颈。尽管中国北部地区天然气供应非常紧张, 该地区的新增进口容量仅占全中国的四分之一。这意味着在接下来几年的冬季,国内天然气管道网络的发展仍然是促使LNG进口量大幅增加的关键因素。国家发改委计划在2015年至2025年期间将中国天然气管道总长度增长到九万九千公里(约六万英里)。综合性的LNG接收站和管道规划是趋势所在,将有利于促进天然气从南到北的运输。[45]






2017年,美国对华贸易逆差为3750亿美元[47] 特朗普总统已把削减逆差视为其工作的重中之重。那么从美国出口到中国的天然气能否在减少中美贸易逆差方面会发挥重要作用呢?


简短的答案是“不会”。 根据美国统计数据,2017年美国LNG对华出口总值为4.24亿美元,而根据中国海关的数据,这一数值大约是6.44亿美元——这只相当于双边贸易赤字的0.1%-0.2%。[48]未来几年中美LNG贸易可能大幅增长,这将会为两国带来可观的收益。但是,未来五年内LNG贸易额在中美贸易赤字中所占比例最大上限为10% ,而实际贸易额可能会小得多。


其中的数学原理很简单。如今美国LNG的出口容量为每天31亿立方英尺。 到2020,美国LNG的出口容量会增加到大约每天91亿立方英尺, 到2022年会增加到每天97亿立方英尺。(LNG出口接收站一般需要三到五年的时间才能建成,因此2022年之前LNG的最大出口能力已众所周知)。截止到今年六月初,亚洲LNG市场价约为10美元/MMBtu。[49]即使所有美国的LNG都出口到中国,并且LNG价格保持在10美元/MMBtu(此价格比前三年的平均水平高出近50%),每年对中国的LNG总出口额将会在2020年和2022年分别达到350亿美元及370亿美元(相当于去年中美贸易赤字的9%至10%)。[50] 然而,大多数美国的LNG并没有出口到中国,因此实际数据可能会低得多。 由此可见,这对减小美国和中国的贸易逆差影响是微乎其微的。




对于美国的LNG出口商来说,中国是一个重要的市场。事实上,在美国LNG出口的目的国中,中国排名第三,美国对华LNG出口占其出口总量的七分之一。鉴于中国在未来十年预计成为全球最大的LNG进口国,[51] 中国企业将继续成为美国LNG出口商重要的潜在客户。


此外 ,与中国公司达成长期合同可能为美国新的LNG出口项目融资发挥重要作用。为项目筹集数十亿美元通常需要项目方签署可以保证实现大部分建设容量计划的长期销售合同为融资债务作担保。[52]与中国公司合作是未来几年LNG长期合同的重要前景。今年年初,美国供应商和中国买家之间的第一份合同是由美国的切尼尔能源公司和中国石油天然气集团所签署的。这两家公司LNG合同量为每年一百二十万吨(16亿立方米),分别在2018年和2023年开始为期 25年和20年的LNG输送[53]该协议是切尼尔能源公司投资在科珀斯克里斯蒂的第三条液化生产线扩建项目达成最终投资决定 (FID)的关键,[54]成为美国2015年以来首个液化天然气项目中的FID。


中美间的LNG销售也为中国企业带来切实利益。2017年底和2018年初冬季的交付量增加表明,从美国出口商购买的灵活性较强的LNG现货能够极好地填补中国季节性供应的缺口。同时,通过长期合同购买的美国的LNG也可以帮助中国满足日益增长的天然气结构性需求。尽管新交付给亚洲的美国LNG的成本略高于其他主要供应商的成本, 但对中国买家来说,Henry Hub 天然气的定价的透明性带来了非常重要的利益,有助于减少中国买家对传统的与石油价格关联的LNG合同的依赖性。同时,来自美国的LNG也丰富了中国的能源供应多样性并增强了中国的能源安全性 (去年,中国有近三分之二的LNG供应仅仅来自于两个供应国—澳大利亚和卡塔尔)。[55]




另一层政治风险则来自于特朗普政府退出国际协议(如伊朗核协议和巴黎气候协议)并破坏长期盟友关系(如七国集团成员国)。在签署长期LNG购买合同之前,进口商会评估出口国政府的可靠性,并评估政府干预这些合同的风险。迄今为止,尽管特朗普政府全力支持美国向中国出口LNG,但因美国先前缺乏对国际协议和联盟条款的尊重,许多国家都对美国政府是否能长期支持一项政策存有疑虑。近日,有一篇社评描述了加拿大LNG的主要优势之一是其提供了“不受美国复杂政治的影响的北美供货稳定性,…及将会使[美国LNG]项目卷入更广泛的贸易和地缘政治考虑。 ”[57]














作为在未来十年内LNG的进口大国,中国正在重塑世界天然气市场 。中国的LNG需求将主导其在世界范围内的LNG供给端的投资,包括潜在的美国市场。尽管检测与管理甲烷泄露的问题和风险亟待解决,中国的天然气发展将在中国及全球范围内产生显着的环境效益。





大卫·桑德罗先生是哥伦比亚大学全球能源政策中心首席研究员和中美项目主任,Akos Losz先生是中心高级研究员,颜盛先生是中心中美项目的副主任。本文观点代表如上作者观点。全球能源政策中心对本文的撰写提供了大力支持。更多信息请见



[1]见Isaac Stone Fish,“卧下的老虎,沉睡的巨人”,外交政策 (2016年1月19日),

[3] BP世界能源统计评论(2018年6月); Takeshi Kumon,“中国新发现的液化天然气需求推高了亚洲能源成本”,日经亚洲评论 (2018年2月4日),

[4] BP世界能源统计评论 (2018年6月); Anders Hove and David Sandalow, “了解中国天然气增长的部门”,保尔森研究所 (2017年9月14日),

[5]见Yana Jin,Henrik Anderson和Shiqiu Zhang,“中国的空气污染防治政策:回顾与展望”,国际环境研究与公共卫生杂志(2016年12月),; 中国日报,“习近平在第十三届全国人大一次会议上的讲话” (2018年3月21日),; 中华人民共和国国务院,“国务院关于印发大气污染防治行动计划的通知”  (2013年9月),

[6]国家发改委,“国家发改委关于印发石油天然气发展“十三五”规划的通知”(2016年12月24日), zcfb/ zcfbghwb/201701/ t20170119_835567.html.

[7]生态环保部, “关于印发《京津冀及周边地区2017年大气污染防治工作方案》的通知” (2017年3月23日),; 河北省环境保护厅“环境保护部部长在2018年全国环境保护工作会议上的讲话” (2018年2月2日), http//万户).

[8] “随着冬季到来引发燃料短缺,中国的天然气销量大增”彭博新闻 (2017年11月28日),;  Hudson Lockett,“燃气短缺迫使中国城市停止在政府大楼供暖”,金融时报 (2017年12月19日),; Lucy Hornby和Archie Zhang,“中国因煤气短缺而受到影响”,金融时报(2017年12月3日),

[9] Sarah Chen, “中国石油宣布扩大中国储气量市场改革”, 彭博新闻(2018年4月26日),于2018年5月22日获取与彭博终端.

[10] Cedigaz和BP统计评论数据; Sylvie Cornot-Gandolphe,“世界地下天然气储存 - 2017年状况”,Cedigaz Insights 第22期 (2017年7月),


(2018年4月) 第三十七页,

[12]根据彭博终端访问的数据所计算的利用率。 参见美国能源信息署,“中国成为世界第二大液化天然气进口国,落后于日本” (2018年2月23日),

[13] “随着中国天然气紧张局势的发展,中海油聘请100卡车车队将LNG运输到北方”,路透社(2017年12月15日),; Interfax Global Energy,“北海码头开始将液化天然气运至淄博市” (2018年1月5日),  中国拥有大约10,000辆液化天然气运输卡车,但通常在中国进口码头周围约300英里的供应范围内运输液化天然气。 Mike Corkhill,“中国液化天然气终端利用率创历史新高”,LNG World Shipping (2018年3月8日),,chinese-lng-terminals-hit-record-utilisation-rates_51033.htm.

[14]“液化天然气全景:中国是否改变了液化天然气供需平衡的前景”, 花旗研究(2018年1月4日) 第二页.

[15]中国天然气进口长期盟国未能满足冬季的需求增长”, 彭博新闻 (2018年2月25日),; “中国在遭受天然气短缺困扰后寻求解决方案,” 环球时报 (2018年1月3日),

[16] Aizhu Chen and Meng, “由于冬季供应紧缩,较10月份相比土库曼11月天然气供应量下滑:海关数据”,  路透社 (2017年12月26日),

[17]从彭博新闻端2018年6月1日访问的数据, 4Q17和1Q18的总采暖度日数与同期两个季度前三年的平均值相比得知。

[18]生态与环境部, “关于印发《京津冀及周边地区2017年大气污染防治工作方案》的通知” (2017年3月23日); 搜狐新闻, “煤改气”之后的反思,我们是不是太着急了?” (2017年12月11日),; 北极星大气网, “环境保护部部长在2018年全国环境保护工作会议上的讲话” (2018年2月2日),

[19] Josephine Mason and Benjamin Kang Lim, “独家:中国计划创建能源部,”路透社 (2018年3月8日),

[20] “BP世界能源统计年鉴” (2018年6月).

[21]国家发展和改革委员会, “国家发改委关于印发石油天然气发展“十三五”规划的通知” (2016年12月24日),

[22] David Sandalow, Jingchao Wu, Qing Yang, Anders Hove and Junda Lin, “中国的页岩气目标达成规划,” 哥伦比亚大学全球能源政策中心(2014年9月) 第五至六页,; “中国页岩气开发面临挑战,2020年产量目标减半”,  路透社 (2014年8月7日),

[23] Edward White, “中国‘大程度的’没达成页岩生产目标:报告”, 金融时报(2018年4月16日),

[24]国家发展和改革委员会, “国家发改委关于印发石油天然气发展 ‘十三五’规划的通知” (2016年12月24日)。

[25] 2018年6月1日通过彭博终端访问数据。数据来源:国家统计局、中国海关数据。

[26] “土库曼斯坦率先推进GTL项目”, News Base (2018年4月11日),

[27] Casey Michel,“中亚-中国天然气管道D线延误”, 外交官 (2016年5月31日),


[28] Casey Michel,“中亚-中国天然气管道网络:D(ead)”, 外交官 (2017年3月21日),

[29] Dawn Lee,“中偏向液化天然气进口”, 世界天然气情报(2018年2月7日). 于2018年6月4日通过Factiva获取;John Roberts, “土库曼斯坦:追求新市场”, 能源经济学人(2018年3月1日),于2018年6月4日通过Factiva获取;Bruce Pannier, “为什么土库曼,乌兹别克领导人不向中国提到‘D线’?”, 自由欧洲电台 (2018年4月27日),

[30]“中国液LNG需求:看好(但可能不会出现大牛市) ”, 瑞士信贷 (2018年2月9日) 第二页.

[31]例如,“中国燃气:最高增长,扩大作用”,摩根士丹利研究报告  (2018年4月18日) 第三十四页;以及“中国整合天然气:天然气价格改革还活着,管道分离死了吗?” UBS Global Research (March 6, 2018) 第十八页.

[32] Tim Boersma, Tatiana Mitrova以及Akos Losz “不断变化的全球天然气订单2.0”, 全球能源政策中心 (2018年4月23日) 第九页,

[33] Dominique Patton 和 Denis Dyomkin, “俄罗斯天然气工业股份公司将于2019年12月开始通过西伯利亚向中国供应天然气”, 路透社 (2017年7月4日),

[34] Dina Khrennikova, “俄罗斯天然气工业股份公司2019年开始长期向中国 供应天然气”, S&P Global (2014年9月1日),

[35] Dan Murtaugh, “中国需要更多地下储气空间” , 彭博新闻 (2018年3月20日),

[36]记者采访(June 2018).

[37] Chen, “中国石油天然气集团有限公表示,市场改革势在必行” (2018年4月26日), 于2018年5月22日通过彭博终端访问.


[39] Aizhu Chen, “在冬季天然气短缺之后” (2018年4月11日).

[40]瑞士信贷,“中国LNG需求” (2018年2月9日) 第七页.

[41] Murtaugh,“中国需要更大的空间” (2018年3月19日).

[42] Chen, “中国石油天然气集团有限公表示,市场改革势在必行” (2018年4月26日), 2018年6月21日通过彭博终端访问; 以及Chen Aizhu,  “中国石油天然气集团有限公司计划进行内部整合,以快速升级天然气储备,” 路透社(2018年6月1日),

[43]国家发展和改革委员会,  “国家发改委关于印发石油天然气发展‘十三五’规划的通知” (2016年12月24日); Zhang Xinyi, Fan Ruohong and Fran Wang, “中国加快推进天然气发展” (2017年7月).

[44] “全球液化天然气:供应过剩缓解,有待紧缩”, 汇丰环球研究报告 (2018年3月) 第四十二页; “制造商位于主导,” 高盛全球商品研究报告 (2018年5月15日) 第二十一页; 作者访谈.

[45]国家发展和改革委员会, “国家发改委关于印发石油天然气发展“十三五”规划的通知” (2016年12月24日),; 作者访谈.

[46]作者访谈. 另见 “中国燃气:高速发展,角色日益重要”, 摩根士丹利研究报告 (2018年4月18日)第三十八页.

[47] “与中国货物贸易往来”, 美国人口普查局 (于2018年6月18日获取),

[48]这两个数字之间的差异可能是由于美国统计数据记录的是LNG销售商在美国装运货物时按成本算出的销售业额,而中国海关数据记录的则是LNG销售商将货物以即期汇价转售到中国的销售量。更多信息请参阅美国人口普查局, “2008年到2017年美国对华出口情况” (2018年6月19日获取), 中国数据于6月15日或区域彭博新闻终端。 官方新闻发表在“海关总署介绍2017年全年进出口情况” (2018年1月12日),

[49] Eriko Amaha, “全球普氏液化天然气现货价格基准7月份上涨40美分至每百万英热10.0美元”,S&P Global (2018年6月8日),


[50]在这个推算里,我们的假设是所有美国运营中的LNG接收站将全年全面将运行。 计量单位转换所用的是美国能源信息署提供的转换系数,将每十亿立方公尺转换为每百万英热 依照美国能源信息署,1立方英尺天然气等于1037英热单位。

[51]参见,例如,“中国将在2021年前成为LNG最大的进口国”,  摩根大通研究报告 (2018年6月15日).

[52]有一些明显的例外,例如埃克森美孚、卡塔尔石油公司和康菲石油公司共同开发的Golden Pass。由于开发公司拥有足够的资产负债能力,可以为Golden Pass项目全权提供资金支持。 而Tellurian公司现提出一种新型全股权融资模式,该模式看到避开传统项目融资方式。

[53] “更新二-切尼尔与中国达成交易更接近实现德州LNG工厂的扩张”, 路透通讯社 (2018年2月9日),

[54] Julie Gordon, “更新一- 切尼尔着手扩张科珀斯克里斯蒂的液化天然项目”, 路透通讯社 (2018年5月22),

[55]国际能源署,世界能源前景2017 (2017年11月)第381页; BP世界能源统计年鉴 (2018年6月); Anna Kachkova, “未来展望,” News Base (2018年4月26日),; Jiaqu Lu and Ye Qi,“美国天然去到中国: 双边关系的正向能量”,布鲁金斯研究中心 (2018年5月31日) ,;参见Melanie Hart, Luke Bassett and Blaine Johnson,“请勿陷入中美天然气贸易的宣传热潮”, 美国进步中心 (2018年4月18日),

[56] Oceana Zhou, Brian Scheid and Jeff Mower,“事实真相:中国威胁25%的美国能源及农业产品”, 标普环球 (2018年6月17日), .

[57] Nikos Tsafos,“加拿大天然气的回击”,战略与国际研究中心(2018年5月24日),

[58]甲烷比大气中的二氧化碳分解更快,导致精确的比较变得复杂。专家们认为,甲烷在二十年内比二氧化碳的温室气体强大约84倍,在100年期间强28倍。参见政府间气候变化专门委员会2014年气候变化:综合报告(2015年)第87页, ,; 国际能源署,世界能源前景2017 (2017年11月)第416-417页; Daniel Raimi,页岩气的争论,哥伦比亚大学出版社(2017)第111页.


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A Natural Gas Giant Awakens: China’s Quest for Blue Skies Shapes Global Markets