China gas and power month in brief: gas reforms keep rolling out while coal faces headwinds
The plummets in power and gas demand in January could be misleading. They are more down to the timing of the Chinese New Year in 2017 compared with last year, than reflections of market fundamentals. LNG imports remained strong in January, growing by 39% year-on-year over a 13% decline in pipeline imports. We expect LNG prices to continue to rise, as evidenced by CNOOC's price uplift in Fujian province, but piloting of gas pricing in Hubei and regulatory reforms in Shandong can help to shore up gas demand. Elsewhere, China took a firm line on coal-fired capacity cuts and warned wind-power investors of growing risks in curtailments across northern provinces. The overcapacity issue is forcing power producers to prepare for financial hardship looming on the horizon. Policing compliance remains the linchpin.