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China will soon be the world's largest natural gas importer

China Sinopec's Tianjin terminal receive liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo from Australia. Photo: VCG/Getty Images

Surging Chinese natural gas consumption, combined with its limited domestic production, will make the country the world's largest gas importer starting in 2019 or even this year, the International Energy Agency said in a new report.

Why it matters: That projection, and other new IEA forecasts of China's remarkable gas demand growth, underscores the country's huge and growing presence in global energy markets.