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China to boost natural gas supply diversions from the southern to northern regions

Highlights

Allows traded coal-fired electricity prices to rise by 20%

To promote construction of coal, natural gas, crude oil reserves

China will divert natural gas to northern regions from the south in the coming winter-spring season, the State Council said, as part of wider measures to ensure energy security.

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China's heating season normally runs from Nov. 15 to March 15 in northern regions, with coal, power and natural gas being the main heating fuels. The moves comes amid ongoing energy shortages and could help boost LNG imports.

The State Council, China's highest executive governmental body, also said traded prices of coal-fired electricity can fluctuate by up to 20% from benchmark levels and by more than 20% for electricity supplied to energy-intensive industries, expanding the two price ranges.

The State Council said during a meeting hosted by Premier Li Keqiang that power tariffs for residential, agriculture, and public welfare undertakings would remain stable.

The move aimed to improve the market-oriented mechanism for coal-fired power prices and meet power demand during the winter-spring season, according to the State Council.

The government will also provide support to coal-fired utilities, allowing those in financial difficulty to defer tax payments, and encourage financial institutions to fund coal purchases by power companies, the State Council said, adding that local governments will be encouraged to prioritize demand to critical sectors.

Many Chinese provinces have implemented power rationing in the past month due to various factors, including a sharp rise in international energy prices, and tight power and fuel supplies, the State Council noted.

The government will accelerate the construction of large-scale solar and wind power units, and speed up the construction of emergency backup and actively promote the construction of coal, natural gas, crude oil reserves and energy storage capacity, the State Council said.

The State Council also asked local governments to take responsibility for energy supply and safe power production and to conduct orderly power rationing.