China is putting all the cards on the table to reduce emissions with natural gas, but their demand is much higher than their production capacity.
China is the world’s largest emissions contributor. Images of smog clouding the daily lives of Chinese citizens have become a common scene in the country. It’s a very dreary view as people must walk about their day wearing a facemask – almost as if it has turned into a Chinese OSHA Requirement.
This is not a scene China wants to come to mind when you think of the Red Dragon country and they are looking to clear the air. Despite their super-low-cost solar panels, they are not looking to renewables to produce clean energy and to power their heavy industries; they are looking at natural gas as it is cheap, efficient, and clean.
Last year, we covered how the US and China reached a trade deal on liquified natural gas, LNG. The $26 billion per year deal solidified our LNG export capacity to key Asian markets. The significance of the Chinese LNG deal for the US is their new ability to negotiate directly with American suppliers; however, our LNG is a drop in the bucket for their demands. It is only 7% of their demand! China is putting all the card on the table while betting on natural gas. They have reached enormous other deals with Russia, including a direct pipeline from the Kremlin as part of their $400 billion energy pact.
The biggest kicker is that they also produce their own gas. In 2017, they saw an 8.5% rise in production up to 147.4 billion cubic meters, BCM, from 2016 when they were the sixth-largest gas producer. Consumption demand surged in 2017 by 15% making their demand 237 BCM, while climbing 12.5% more in 2018 to 270 BCM and expecting to reach 317 BCM by 2020.
Their demand far outpaces their ability to produce, even though they are a top-ten contender for natural gas reserves. Their gas basins face a number of geo and technological challenges. The depth of the wells, lack of water for operations, and being rich in sulphur, all contribute to a plateau situation. They are just breaking even and that is with their government subsidies to prop up their production, leaving them to fill the forecasted additional 132 BCM of demand with imports. They’re talking big money, big investments, and even bigger demands. Their long-term reliance on coal is shifting as they switch factories and millions of homes over to natural gas.
The fun of this doesn’t stop here. Clearly, China’s investments into imports and a Russian pipeline signals they have their mind made up that natural gas is the answer to their emissions. However, when you look at the environmentalists’ side, they are offering a little different spin. It would be painful to read if you didn’t know how big of a sham the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is, but it is hilarious to see that elitist gang dance around the topic of natural gas use in China.
Like me, they are praising China for opting to move away from coal and clean up their emissions. Where the divide comes is that we recognize their investment in natural gas is China’s solution, while the NRDC gang skips the gas conversation entirely and only praises China for moving away from coal. The NRDC only briefly mentions renewables and perhaps that’s because the Rockefeller family—the special interest force behind the NRDC—is invested heavily in importing gas, oil and petrochemicals into China from other countries.
The NRDC focuses on China’s 13th 5-year plan that is actually doing nothing more than switching coal out with natural gas, but the gang highlights the coal reduction targets and revitalized monitoring programs to reduce particulates. Granted their article is from December 2016, but this shows how they refuse to acknowledge how big of an impact natural gas is having.
The NRCD can try to spin China’s newfound desire to reduce smog however they want, but money trails tell the truth. The money isn’t being spent on installing solar panels or wind turbines, they are investing in solutions geared to their own special interests, not just feel-good band-aids.