China's imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) set a monthly record in November as residential and industrial demand surged in line with the nation's drive to promote gas rather than coal to cut winter pollution.
Shipments in November rose 53 percent to 4.06 million tons compared with the same month a year earlier, according to data released on Saturday by the General Administration of Customs.
That beat the previous record of 3.733 million tons set in December last year.
In the first 11 months, LNG imports were 33.13 million tons, compared with 26.15 million a year earlier and pointing to a record total for 2017.
Gas shortages deepened in December, with some cities putting quotas on residential purchases and chemical plants in southern provinces shutting in order to cope with the supply crunch.
Constraints on infrastructure such as LNG receiving terminals and storage facilities have meant China, the world's largest energy user, has limited space to further increase its LNG shipments, analysts have said.
China's major oil and gas operator Sinopec stepped up efforts to increase domestic gas supplies as widespread shortages hit more cities in the past week, responding to the call from the country's top economic planner.
Sinopec said it will increase upstream production by 1.1 million cubic meters per day and has hired 40 trucks to deliver LNG from its Beihai LNG terminal in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to northern China regions.
The latest move from Sinopec showed major producers are now in a scramble to ease the gas crunch that left residents freezing and factories shut.
Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province, started curbing residential consumption of gas as the crisis deepens.
Chemical companies such as Yuantianhua based in Southwest China's Yunnan Province also halted production line amid the gas shortage.
Sinopec said it will accelerate the construction of the key Tianjin LNG receiving terminal. The terminal is expected to provide 450 million cubic meters of LNG shipments every quarter.
In addition, the gas producer and pipeline operator cut supplies to industrial users by 3.9 million cubic meters per day to meet residential demand.
Sinopec said its two major storage tanks in East China's Jiangsu Province and Central China's Henan Province have been fully filled.
Diesel exports rose 37.6 percent in November to 2.03 million tons from the same month a year earlier, gasoline exports were up 11.2 percent to 1.04 million tons.
(Source: Global Times)