OREANDA-NEWS. April 03, 2014. China's apparent demand for natural gas in January rose 15.3% year on year to 16.89 billion cubic meters, with much of the increase met through foreign supplies, according to Platts calculations based on government data.

Demand in January was also up 3.9% from December 2013. Apparent demand in both December and January spiked to over 16 Bcm, up from 14.06 Bcm in November and 13.43 Bcm in October.

China does not release consumption data for natural gas. Platts estimates apparent demand by taking into account domestic gas production, LNG and pipeline gas imports, and subtracting gas exports to Macau and Hong Kong from the overall volume.

China's total gas production in January was 10.99 Bcm, data released Wednesday by the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

This was only a 1.7% increase from January last year, according to Platts calculations based on cumulative production data for January-February released last week.

Total gas imports on the other hand, surged 48% year on year in January to 4.43 million mt, or approximately 6.12 Bcm, according to data released February 26 by the General Administration of Customs, which reports data on pipeline gas and LNG in mt.

China's pipeline gas imports from Central Asia and Myanmar totaled 1.78 million mt in January, up 19.6% year on year, while LNG imports rose 76.2% year on year to 2.65 million mt, a record high volume.

Subtracting gas exports of about 220 million cu m in January, total apparent demand comes to 16.89 Bcm.

China's gas demand typically peaks during the winter months, stretching from the fourth quarter and lasting well into Q1 of the following year. In northern China, the main demand comes from industrial customers and residential consumers who use mainly LNG for heating.

State-owned PetroChina has had to rely increasingly on spot LNG cargoes in winter to fulfil this demand.

Qatar was China's largest supplier of LNG in January, with a record 1.28 million mt. This was 16.8% more than in January last year, and also up 69.3% from December.

Both PetroChina and China National Offshore Oil Corp. have significant long-term contracts to buy LNG from state-owned Qatargas.

In contrast, Malaysia, the second-largest supplier, sent just 413,171 mt of LNG to China in January, though this was more than double from a year earlier.