China has become the world’s second largest importer of liquefied natural gas in 2017. By the end of November 2017, Japan is the world's largest importer, with South Korea as the third largest LNG importer. China's LNG imports have increased by 46% in 2017, according to Bloomberg News. The Chinese government is encouraged to clean their smoggy air with cleaner source of energy, and shifting from using coal-burning furnaces to natural gas from households to manufacturers. Moreover, the Chinese government is supporting the movement by implementing the necessary infrastructure required for this transformation.
At this moment, China lacks the infrastructure to handle the demand for natural gas. Currently, China has 17 LNG import terminals at 14 ports along the coastline, which has substantially increased LNG regasification at their terminals within the past year. Therefore, according to multiple reports, China will become the world's largest importer, as early as 2025.
The steady increase of LNG demand would warrant further investment and expansion in LNG plants worldwide. LNG consumption is a growing trend among countries like China and India who are shifting towards a gas-based source of energy.
Typically, Japan and South Korea have bought LNG at discounted, long-term contracts, but China may be a game changer in the procurement process. Again, with the steady increase of LNG demand from China, and aggressive Chinese buyers, we may see a steady change in LNG production, demand, procurement, and regasification.