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PetroChina said to have suspended buying LNG spot cargoes from the US

Chinese energy giant PetroChina, a unit of the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp., has suspended its buying of liquified natural gas spot cargoes from the United States, according to the Upstream, a global oil, gas and energy news service.

China has already slowed down its purchase of LNG from the US, having bought only one cargo in July, compared to seven cargoes in January, and the country has started to looking for alternative LNG supplies, according to the report.

The move is thought to be aimed at avoiding potential tariffs amid a trade conflict between the US and China.

China said last month it was considering a 25 per cent tariff on US LNG, which had been missing from previously targeted goods, in a direct hit to American gas exporters.

Earlier this week, PetroChina signed a deal with Qatargas Operating Co. to purchase 3.4 million tons of liquefied natural gas annually, the Chinese company’s biggest supply deal, state-controlled Qatargas said in a statement Monday.

Under the 22-year agreement, Qatargas will supply LNG from the Qatargas 2 project, a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Total SA and the first cargo will be delivered later this month.

China’s LNG imports have surged 35 per cent in the first eight months of this year, helping it overtake Japan as the world’s biggest buyer of natural gas, amid Beijing’s drive to boost use of the fuel as part of an environment protection campaign.