China’s natural gas demand is expected to set a new record in 2021 as its economy emerges from the pandemic faster than most countries and it remains on track to meet its long-term environment protection targets, data from S&P Global Platts Analytics and state-owned Sinopec’s research arm showed.

S&P Global Platts Analytics expects Chinese natural gas demand to reach 360 Bcm in 2021, up 8.4 percent from an estimated 332 Bcm in 2020. It was at 313 Bcm in 2019.

State-owned Sinopec has a slightly more conservative outlook, and expects gas demand at around 340-345 Bcm in 2021, up 6-8 percent from an estimated 320 Bcm in 2020, data from its unit Institute of Economic Research showed.

China’s average annual increase in natural gas demand is expected to exceed 20 Bcm in the 14th Five Year Plan (2021-2025) and reach 430 Bcm in 2025, which will be slower than the average annual growth of 11.1 percent seen during the 13th Five Year Plan, according to state-owned CNPC’s think tank Economics & Technology Research Institute.

Strong demand from both residential and industrial users will incentivise more domestic gas production and imports in 2021. China’s domestic gas output is also on track to hit a record high, estimated to have grown 7.3 percent in 2020, and by another 3 percent in 2021 to reach 200 Bcm, according to Platts Analytics LNG analyst Szehwei Yeo.

CNPC’s ETRI expects China’s gas output to reach 220-250 Bcm in 2025, up by 35-65 Bcm from 2020, implying an annual growth rate of around 3-7 percent, Platts calculations showed.

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11th January 2021