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TIANJIN: China's demand for natural gas is expected to rise to 180 billion cubic meters (bcm) this winter, up 10% from a year earlier, an official at Petro China, the country's top oil and gas producer, said on Thursday.

Petrochina has secured 106.2 bcm of gas supplies for this winter, up 8.4% from a year ago, the official told a seminar organised by state-backed Chongqing Gas Exchange in Tianjin.

Li Wei, a vice director at PetroChina's natural gas marketing company, the country's largest natural gas wholesaler, said about 60 bcm of the natural gas would be supplied from domestic sources, while imported pipeline gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) would reach about 20 bcm and 10 bcm, respectively.

Required supply of RLNG not possible as of now

PetroChina plans to supply 82 bcm of natural gas for residential heating in cities and sell the rest to industrial sectors such as fertiliser and chemical.

"We expected that in general gas supply is able to meet the market demand this winter, but there could be tight supply in some peak periods," said Li, adding that potential extreme was a major uncertainty.

Meteorological experts have predicted the return of the El Nino weather patter this winter, indicating lower temperatures in northern China and less rainfall in southern China which could lead to stronger gas demand for heating and power generation.

The central government has urged energy firms to step up efforts to boost gas supply before winter heating demand emerges in mid-November.

So far, China has secured a total of 174.4 bcm of natural gas supply for this winter, according to PetroChina's Li and Li Jianlei, a manager at Sinopec.

Sinopec was set to provide a total of 27 bcm of natural gas to the market for this winter, including 13.24 bcm from its domestic fields.

Sinopec's Li also said the company is "actively" increasing gas storage for emergency use. A new 266,000 cubic metres berth at its Tianjin LNG terminal is scheduled to launch by end-November.

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