China's foreign fuel reliance rises
China's natural gas output reached 31.89 billion cubic meters in the first four months of 2010, a 13.1 percent increase from a year ago. Apparent consumption, an index measuring real consumption excluding inventories, was 35.14 billion cubic meters, a rise of 22.8 percent year-on-year, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows.
China began importing natural gas in 2006.
"The fast growth of natural gas imports was mostly due to the Sino- Myanmar oil and gas pipelines," said Lin Boqiang, director at the Center of China Energy Economics Research with Xiamen University.
The pipelines transport oil and gas from Myanmar and end in Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan Province. About 12 billion cubic meters of gas are expected to flow through the pipeline from Myanmar to China every year.
Over one fifth of Myanmar's natural gas is exported to China. In addition to Myanmar, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are also contracted to supply natural gas to China.
"The imported natural gas will mainly go to petrochemical industries in the coastal areas, such as Shanghai and Zhejiang Province, "Lin said.
The peak season for gas consumption in China is usually December and January, during which northern China is expected to face a gas shortfall of 8 million cubic meters a day, and southern China will be short 5-6 million cubic meters a day, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Natural gas is often described as the cleanest fossil fuel, producing less carbon dioxide, far smaller amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides.
The Beijing newspaper quoted China Petrochemical Industry Association as saying that "more reliance on overseas natural gas will push China to speed up energy efficiency projects."
At present, China accounts for 4 percent of global GDP but consumes 31 percent of the world's coal and 8 percent of its oil.