Trade jitters - fears China may move next on Australia's gas industry

Chinese companies have big investments in Australian gas production.
Chinese companies have big investments in Australian gas production.

There are unconfirmed reports China may be targeting Australian liquefied natural gas imports as the latest retaliatory move over souring trade relations between the two countries.

The fears are based on a report from finance media outlet Bloomberg and so far only comes from smaller LNG shippers.

There has as yet been no official confirmation of any more trade threats from China.

China has been moving from coal to LNG to supply part of its energy mix into the future.

Australia is world's biggest producer of LNG and provided almost half of China's supplies last year.

Most of the exports originate from Gladstone in Queensland where several big gas plants are located, converting coal seam gas to LNG for export.

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Most experts believe a Chinese ban on LNG is unlikely as several Chinese companies such as CNOOC, PetroChina and Sinopec have invested heavily in the Queensland producers.

CNOOC owns a 5.3 per cent interest in the North West Shelf LNG Project.

But unlike iron ore on which it is dependent for most of its imports, China has other LNG suppliers, Qatar in the Middle East also Russia and the US.

The trade was said to be worth $10 billion last year.

At least two of China's second-tier LNG importers have been instructed to avoid buying cargoes from Australia, Bloomberg reported.

Only last week China withdrew from a key economic partnership with Australia as the relations worsened.

This followed the Federal government's cancellation of Victoria's Belt and Road agreement in March.

Other commodities like barley, coal, some meat products, copper ore, wine, lobsters have already been hit by tariff actions.

More to come.

This story Trade jitters - fears China may move next on Australia's gas industry first appeared on Farm Online.