China's state economic planner has revived a plan to create a national natural gas pipeline company, aiming to provide gas producers with better access to infrastructure to help increase take-up of the cleaner-burning fuel, according to senior officials.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is working with state oil companies including China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and Sinopec Group on the proposal.
The talks include what assets would be included in the company and how it will be run, they said. The plan, first raised about five years ago, is part of Beijing's proposed reforms to make the state-dominated oil and gas sector more efficient and follows a string of smaller steps over the past two years, including cutting down transportation costs and encouraging investment in gas storage.
The proposed national pipeline company is expected to oversee China's trunkline projects such as the West-to-East pipelines operated by CNPC and Sinopec's project linking gas fields in the southwestern province of Sichuan to the east coast.
China is the world's third largest gas consumer after the USA and Russia, with imports of the fuel making up about a third of consumption.
The NDRC said earlier this year it expects the country's gas pipelines to total 104 000 km (64 600 miles) by 2020, up from 64 000 km at the end of 2015. CNPC currently operates nearly 80% of China's gas pipelines, according to its website.
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