TIANJIN China, Sept 21 (Reuters) - China's natural gas demand this year is expected to grow by 8% from 2022 to 396.4 billion cubic metres (bcm), an analyst from state-owned oil major CNOOC's research division said at a conference on Thursday.
Imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are expected to reach 70.79 million metric tons this year, up 10.9% from last year, while that of pipeline gas is seen reaching 69.5 bcm, 10.7% above the 2022 level, said Xie Xuguang, from CNOOC Gas and Power Group's research centre.
The CNOOC forecast fordemand growth is higher than that of three other analysts and comes after a rare decline in 2022 when Chinese gas demand slipped 1% amid rigid COVID-19 controls and saw China cede its top LNG importer ranking to Japan.
Gas demand growth this year was seen at between 5.7% and 7.4%, according to estimates this week by ICIS, Energy Aspects and SIA Energy.
China's total gas demand was forecast to peak in 2040 at 700 bcm, Xie added, echoing a previous forecast by state major Sinopec.
China's domestic production of natural gas was expected to rise to 227.8 bcm for the whole of 2023, up 4.6% on last year.
Imports of both piped gas and liquefied natural gas were both expected to increase to meet rising domestic demand.
The country's LNG receiving capacity, seen at 139.3 million tons annually by the end of 2023, is expected to expand to 181.8 million tons by 2025, Xie said.
CNOOC noted that China's dependence on foreign imports was likely to increase in the coming years, with imports of LNG and piped gas expected to account for 46% of domestic demand in 2025 and 49% of domestic demand by 2035.
Reporting by Andrew Hayley; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Michael Perry