Editor’s Note: This column is part of a regular series by industry veteran Brad Hitch for NGI’s LNG Insight dedicated to addressing the complexities of the global natural gas market.

Incredible rates of growth in fuel switching and infrastructure development allowed China to go from first time LNG importer to a short stint as the world’s largest in 2021.  

China’s imports declined by 20% the following year, when Japan regained the top spot. That represents the first actual decline in China’s liquefied natural gas imports since the 2000s. It was also the only meaningful drop since imports of the super-chilled fuel began in 2006.       

In the last column we examined the development model that the Chinese government established to foster the development of the natural...