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China unveils 2017-2021 winter clean heating plan amid natural gas shortage

The Chinese government released a five-year plan to shift Northern China heating systems to clean heating for winter to 2021 amid a heating crisis in the country, Reuters reported.

The government has made "concrete arrangements" regarding geothermal heating, biomass heating, solar heating, gas heating, electric heating, industrial waste heating and clean coal-fired central heating, Reuters said, citing a report by the Securities Times. Half of northern China would have converted to clean heating by 2019, reducing bulk coal burning by 74 million tonnes, it said.

The move is part of the country’s bid to cut air pollution but the change from coal to natural gas in northern China this winter has not been successful, with shortages pushing the prices of natural gas up nationwide, Reuters reported.

"Factories are closing or operating at reduced capacity, businesses are seeing profits shrink as supply chains are disrupted, and residents are struggling to keep warm in sub-zero temperatures without adequate heating at home or in classrooms," Reuters reported, citing interviews it had conducted in the region in December.

China National Offshore Oil Corp. and China National Petroleum Corp.'s PetroChina have both stepped in to help fill the gap in supply.