KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 (Reuters) - China’s annual natural gas consumption will more than treble by 2030, the president of major gas producer China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) said, giving a forecast lower than an estimate by energy consultant Wood Mackenzie.
Zhou Jiping told an international gas conference on Thursday that consumption would reach 550 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year by 2030.
Wood Mackenzie released a forecast on Wednesday, at the same conference in Kuala Lumpur, that demand was likely to increase to more than 600 bcm by 2030 from just over 150 bcm now.
But both forecasts suggested that imports would remain a major part of China’s growing natural gas use, with Zhou saying domestic production was expected to surpass 200 bcm by 2020 and rise to 300 bcm by 2030.
“Our gas demand will go up rapidly through 2030, with an annual growth of about 8 percent,” Zhou said.
CNPC accounts for 75 percent of China’s total gas production and its reserves.
The company’s domestic gas output will reach 120 bcm in 2015 and 160 bcm in 2020, Zhou said, adding he expected natural gas to account for 10 percent of primary energy sources by 2020 from 5 percent now.
In a report released on Tuesday, the International Energy Agency said it expects global gas demand to rise 17 percent to 3,937 billion cubic metres in 2017, with China more than doubling its consumption to 273 billion cubic metres. The figures signalled a rapid surge in global demand that may be difficult to meet.
Gas prices in Asia far surpass those in the United States on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Zhou said curbing imports and meeting demand in China will require more efforts to boost shale gas production.
“We see great potential but also great challenges (in shale gas)... In the near term we will focus on shale gas evaluation and technology and pilot program to make preparations for large scale development in the future,” Zhou said.
The Wood Mackenzie report said China would have to rely on unconventional supplies such as coal-bed methane, coal-to-gas, as well as imports of both piped and liquefied natural gas (LNG) as its exploitation of shale gas reserves will be slower than expected.