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Liquefied natural gas shortage triggers emergency response in north China

LNG shortage elicits emergency response in China

BEIJING — Authorities in North China have implemented an emergency plan due to a temporary shortage of natural gas supplies in recent days caused by transportation and weather problems.

The plan includes limiting indoor temperatures at public buildings and suspending supplies to manufacturers.

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the country’s largest oil and gas supplier and producer, ran into difficulties when unloading imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) at ports. This caused a temporary shortage of natural gas supplies in northern areas, the Beijing Commission of City Administration and Environment said.

PetroChina, CNPC’s listed arm, said on Monday that a vessel carrying 260,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas was unable to discharge its cargo as scheduled at the port of Tangshan in Hebei province because of heavy winds and smog.

Lin Boqiang, director of the Energy Research Center at Xiamen University, said there is an oversupply of natural gas in the country, so the shortage in northern areas will be temporary.

The LNG supply is sufficient, and domestic LNG plants are operating at about 50 percent this year due to oversupply.

“The shortfall will be filled very soon by other means, and the problem is likely to be solved in one or two days,” Lin added. China imports LNG mostly from Turkmenistan, Qatar, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia.

To keep Beijing’s heating system stable, the commission launched a contingency plan on Saturday, strictly controlling indoor temperatures at public buildings and suspending natural gas supplies to manufacturers.

There have been difficulties in supplying natural gas to North China, particularly Beijing, recently due to the earlier arrival of cold weather and problems in upstream gas supply, the National Development and Reform Commission said on Sunday.

Authorities have also reduced natural gas supplies to nonresidential users in Shanxi, Shaanxi, Tianjin, Hebei and Beijing.

The top regulator also coordinated with China Petrochemical Corporation and China National Offshore Oil Corporation to increase natural gas supplies to the pipeline network to ensure supply in North China.

PetroChina said the situation will improve, as it is adopting measures to limit distribution in order to secure natural gas supplies in the region.

“PetroChina will optimise the LNG distribution network and pipeline infrastructure, and at the same time improve load ability … to secure the supply of gas for domestic use,” the company said.

In related news, Asian LNG price faces steep fall as perfect storm brews.

This article was written by Lyu Chang and Lan Lan from China Daily, Beijing / Asia News Network and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.