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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Natural gas imports expected to increase

By Zhou Yan (China Daily)

09:15, December 27, 2011

BEIJING - China's reliance on natural gas imports will continue, accounting for more than half of the country's total consumption, as demand surges for the fuel for both industrial and residential use.

China, which is widely estimated to realize more than 9 percent growth in GDP in 2011, imported 3.1 billion cubic meters (cu m) of natural gas in November, 1.5 times higher than during the same month last year, according to figures from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

The increase in November saw the nation's total imports of natural gas in the first 11 months of the year grow by 91.5 percent year-on-year to 28.1 billion cu m.

The country produced 91.4 billion cu m of natural gas between January and November, with growth of 6 percent compared with the same period in 2010, the NDRC said.

China's imports of natural gas are expected to hit 30 billion cu m this year, said Duan Zhaofang, a natural gas researcher at the Economics & Technology Research Institute of China National Petroleum Corp, the country's biggest energy producer.

The institute's statistics show that China imported 17 billion cu m of gas in 2010, accounting for 16 percent of the nation's total consumption.

China's energy demand will rise in tandem with the country's economic growth, said Li Junfeng, deputy director of the NDRC's Energy Research Institute.

Natural gas imports will increase greatly to account for more than 50 percent of total consumption in the future, said Li, but without providing a timeframe.

As supplies increase through the China-Central Asia gas pipeline and liquefied natural gas carried in storage tanks, imports will play an important role in the diversification of supplies of natural gas, Duan said.

The nation's reliance on crude oil imports surpassed 50 percent for the first time last year, and experts estimate that the figure will hit 65 percent by 2020.

Between January and November, the country's apparent consumption - including imports and domestic production but excluding exports - of natural gas rose 20.5 percent from a year earlier to 115.9 billion cu m, the NDRC said.

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