(Yicai Global) Jan. 5 -- China bought 38 million tons of liquefied natural gas last year, pushing it past South Korea to become the world's second largest importer.
Data from energy market researcher S&P Global Platts shows LNQ imports in China rose over 48 percent from 2016, making it the fastest grower in the Asia-Pacific region. South Korean imports climbed 10.8 percent to nearly 37 million tons while Japan topped the lot at almost 82 million.
China's natural gas consumption hit a sharp rise last year after the government sought to cut back on coal burning. The nation imported five million tons of LNG in December as temperatures cooled, up 38 percent and marking the biggest month since China began importing LNG in 2006.
The incline saw the spot market reach unusually high prices. Platts' data shows LNG hit a three-year high of USD11 per million British thermal unit on Jan. 3 this year, more than double the USD5.4 low in 2017. Freight rates for the fuel have soared to USD85,000 a day in APAC regions from USD25,000 in mid-2017.