Central Asia gas to China: LNG's less-seasonal competitor
Central Asian gas has been piped to China since 2009 and volumes continue to grow (around 33 bcm in 2016). It will remain a core part of China's gas mix, averaging 17% of supply in 2017-22. However, these flows face sustained pressure from intense gas-on-gas competition. Piped supply struggles to be cost-competitive across China's regions – whether in the west or east. Central Asian gas loses out to cheaper domestic production in central China and to flexible LNG in coastal regions. The giant gas fields of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan may seem remote, but they are an important building block of global gas dynamics. The competitiveness of Central Asian gas influences China's call on spot LNG and the seasonal availability of excess LNG supply in other markets. In the medium term, marginal LNG may find a home in China that less-competitive piped imports are unable to fill.