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• Chinese LNG imports hit a record 4.06mn tons in November as the country’s extensive program to switch domestic heating from coal to gas met with peak winter demand.
• Imports were almost certainly higher still in December, meaning that China will have overtaken South Korea as the world’s number two LNG importer over the course of 2017. China imported 33.3mn tons for January-November, up 48% year-on-year. Korea’s imports, at 33.5mn tons for the same period, were slightly higher.
• Although Korean imports are up by a not-inconsiderable 14% year-on-year, this pales alongside the growth in Chinese buying. Korea has lagged China in six of the last seven months, with the gap widening to 730,000 tons in November. Japan remains way out in front with 75.7mn tons for January-November almost level with year-ago volumes (75.8mn tons) but well down on the record annual figures of 88mn tons seen in 2013 and 2014.
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