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China's natural gas imports up 66.7 pct in January

(Xinhua)

13:41, February 26, 2012

BEIJING, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- China's natural gas imports rose 66.7 percent year-on-year to hit 3.6 billion cubic meters in January, the country's top economic planner said.

The rapid increase has further pushed up the share of imported natural gas in the country's natural gas consumption, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement on its website.

The apparent consumption of natural gas surged 20.1 percent from a year earlier to 13.7 billion cubic meters in January. The growth pace slows from last year's peak period, but still stands at high levels, the NDRC said.

The rise in consumption was mainly caused by high power demands for winter heating and chemical fertilizer production, said the NDRC.

Meanwhile, the natural gas output increased by 2.4 percent year-on-year to 9.8 billion cubic meters in January, the NDRC said.

Natural gas reserves fell in January due to the lower-than-expected natural gas consumption in north China, especially in Beijing, and an increased output by the Shaanxi-to-Beijing natural gas pipelines.

The gas storage group of Dagang, a reserve designed to meet the high winter heating demand in north China, stocked 410 million cubic meters of natural gas in January, down by 200 million cubic meters from a year earlier. The reserve was owned by the country's oil giant PetroChina.

Shaanxi-to-Beijing natural gas pipelines consist of three pipelines. The latest line came on stream in January 2011, following the launch of the first line in October 1997 and the second in July 2005.

China's natural gas imports rose to 17 billion cubic meters in 2010, accounting for 16 percent of the country's total consumption, official data showed.

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