U.S. Markets closed

Is Your Energy Bill Skyrocketing? Blame China


China’s war against smog is lifting prices for energy all over the world, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and the International Energy Agency.

Policies promoting natural gas use have helped boost China’s consumption by 19 percent this year and raised it to the world’s second-biggest importer of liquefied shipments of the fuel, lifting prices for spot cargoes. Higher gas prices are boosting demand for coal, which has already seen prices rise because of separate Chinese policies restricting mine production, Goldman analysts including Christian Lelong said in a Dec. 12 research note.

Rising global energy prices are another ripple effect of China’s blue skies efforts, which have improved air quality in Beijing and other notoriously smoggy cities but also resulted in natural gas shortages in the country and a burgeoning heating crisis in some areas.

“China’s dash for gas may lead to further increases in global gas prices, either because the shortage of gas drives some Chinese consumers back to coal and exacerbates the tightness in that market, or because China ends up attracting LNG shipments that would have otherwise gone to other countries,” Lelong said. “This would leave China’s push for cleaner air as creating a cost to other global consumers, as gas typically sets the marginal cost of power.”

Spot LNG prices in Northeast Asia rose this week to $10.05 per million British thermal units, the highest level since January 2015, according to industry publication World Gas Intelligence. Newcastle coal futures on ICE Futures Europe are up 15 percent over this time last year, at $98.65 a ton.