The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that starting in 2019, China will be the world’s largest gas importer. The country is energy needy and with not much domestic production of gas.
China already outpaces the rest of the world in consumption and production of coal, and importing crude oil. It is expected it will push Japan out of first place for buying foreign gas, with the biggest jump being in liquefied natural gas (LNG).
IEA is seeing the Chinese gas demand surging 60 percent between 2017 and 2023. One reason for the rise is the government’s desire to improve the country’s horrendous air quality by getting rid of coal in favor of gas for both industry and residential use. "An increasing role for natural gas—defined as a clean energy source—in every sector of China’s economy is backed by strong policy support from the 13th Five-Year Plan," the IEA says.