Trade war: China’s natural gas tariff will kill off US projects, says Canadian firm

The 10 per cent surcharge on imports from the US ‘will leave American companies dead in the water’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 October, 2018, 4:13pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 October, 2018, 10:37pm

LNG Canada challenged competing US liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects on Monday, saying many could end up “dead in the water” as long as China keeps its tariff on US imports of the fuel as part of the trade war between the countries.

China in September announced a 10 per cent tariff on LNG imports from the United States as part of the escalating trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies.

This month, Royal Dutch Shell said it received a final investment decision for its US$31 billion LNG Canada project, which is expected to start exporting in 2025.

Speaking at an industry event in Nagoya on Monday, LNG Canada chief executive Andy Calitz said the decision “was irrespective” of Chinese tariffs on US LNG, but added such measures would make US LNG less competitive.

Tariff on US imports would add to price pressures on LNG from weak yuan and global market gain

“The world has become so competitive that if we are to face a 10 per cent surcharge tariff on LNG, then as far as I’m concerned, you’re dead in the water. So I’m very happy to be in Canada,” he told Reuters.

Current US LNG exports remain competitive despite the 10 per cent surcharge into China, as US natural gas is cheap thanks to booming shale output, allowing exporters to offer LNG at competitive rates.

Once operational, LNG Canada will have the advantage of being closer to Asia’s North Asian consumer hubs than US facilities, saving freight costs, while also avoiding fees for using the Panama Canal that current US LNG exporters must pay since they are located on the Gulf of Mexico.

China to become world’s top importer of natural gas in 2019, report says

Several US projects are still vying for financing and they must compete with rising output elsewhere, including from top producers Australia and Qatar.

Being competitive in China is key as it is the world’s fastest-growing LNG import market.

Calitz said China would overtake Japan as the world’s biggest LNG importer “within the next 24 months”.

China’s natural gas consumption in 2017 rose 14.8 per cent from the previous year to 238.6 billion cubic metres, and is expected to reach 270 billion cubic metres in 2018 and 320 billion cubic metres in 2020, Guo Zhi, general economist at China’s National Energy Administration, said at the event.