Gas is in such scorching demand in China proper now it’s permitting a unusual market to flourish: transporting the gas on vehicles.

Call them pipelines on wheels. The nation’s high suppliers are loading liquefied pure fuel onto tanker vehicles and delivering it to customers to make up for inadequate pipeline protection inland. The technique is so efficient ENN Group is utilizing it as a main strategy to transfer LNG from its new terminal.

This new form of fuel market has thrived in China over the previous few years as the federal government’s blue-sky insurance policies boosted demand for the cleaner-burning gas quicker than pipelines could be constructed to help them. It’s additionally unregulated, permitting nimble sellers to profit from rising costs throughout peak consumption seasons, whereas the city-gate benchmark stays at government-set charges.


“We haven’t seen this sort of quantity in trucked LNG wherever else on the earth” stated Xizhou Zhou, head of China power analysis for IHS Markit. “This market in China is a mirrored image of the market distortion attributable to regulated city-gate costs, rising provide and demand, and value volatility.”

ENN is betting this technique of transporting LNG will endure. The distributor’s new terminal in Zhoushan, a tiny island on the mouth of the Yangtze River, is the primary on the earth constructed to load nearly all of its imports onto vehicles as a substitute of reheating them to their gaseous state for pipelines or energy crops.

The facility is designed to import about three MM tons of LNG a 12 months, with 2 MM destined for vehicles and the remaining for pipelines. But trucking the gas is pricey. It prices almost six instances greater than piping it, in response to a examine by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies & Research Center in Saudi Arabia.

More Lucrative

Companies like ENN are glad to take this pricier route as a result of it may be extra profitable. Trucked LNG sells for about four,500 yuan ($650) a ton. That’s two-thirds larger than benchmark Shanghai city-gate charges. Last winter, trucked LNG costs jumped to 7,400 yuan amid a nationwide fuel scarcity.

The rise of this free-wheeling market reveals how China’s pure fuel business, lengthy underneath the management of the federal government, is transferring towards liberalization. The nation has taken steps towards a free market by auctioning off fuel and import terminal area on exchanges, granting third events entry to property operated primarily by state-owned giants, and revising its pricing mechanism.

Those efforts are additionally aimed toward bettering provide effectivity to fulfill the roughly 20% surge in demand. China’s unprecedented crackdown on its noxious smog by changing coal furnaces with fuel burners has turn out to be some of the essential components shaping the worldwide power market.

Meet Targets

Trucks carried about 19 MM tons of LNG to prospects final 12 months, accounting for 12% of China’s whole use, Wood Mackenzie estimates. For fuel customers with restricted pipeline protection, trucking permits them to pay money for provide and meet authorities’s switching targets, Wen Wang, an analyst on the consultancy agency, stated by e-mail.

Given its measurement, the trucked market might assist China’s transition towards a extra market-oriented system. Eliminating fuel pricing controls might assist save as a lot as $2.2 billion a 12 months, partially by decreasing using costlier trucking, Saudi Arabia’s KAPSARC researchers stated in a May report.

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“Trucked LNG helps set the stage for additional value deregulation,” Wang stated. “As this slice of market grows, increasingly more customers are uncovered to market costs as a substitute of regulated costs.”


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