November 25, 2019 / 10:35 AM / 14 days ago

China Gas reports 16% rise in half-year profit

* New residential users up 15.8% in “coal-to-gas” push

* Expects to benefit from upcoming Russian gas pipeline

* Apr-Sept gas sales up 7.8%

* LNG, LPG trading weigh on revenue

BEIJING, Nov 25 (Reuters) - China Gas Holdings Ltd reported a 16.2% rise in mid-year profit to 4.91 billion Hong Kong dollars ($627 million) as Beijing’s anti-pollution campaign helped boost gas demand.

Analysts expected a profit of 4.84 billion dollars, Refinitiv data showed.

China’s largest independent city-gas distributor by market capitalisation saw a 3.3% fall in revenue to 27.93 billion dollars for the six months to September 30, it said in a statement filed to Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Results were hurt by trading in liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), China Gas said.

Still, natural gas sales rose 7.8% to 11.84 billion cubic metres and it posted a 15.8% rise in new residential users, adding 2.93 million households.

Since 2017 the government has been pushing households in northern China to switch to gas- or electricity-fired heating from coal-burning units in a bid to curb air pollution.

China Gas Holdings has partnered with PetroChina’s Kunlun Energy to connect thousands of households in northeastern provinces to a Russia-China gas pipeline due to launch in early December.

“(Pipeline gas in the northeast) will directly benefit from Russian gas,” the company said in the statement, adding it will significantly strengthen its ability to secure gas supply and enhance the overall profitability of local project companies.

During the April-September period, China Gas secured four new city piped gas projects in the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Liaoning, as well as Inner Mongolia and the Henan region, it said.

As of the end of September, China Gas had 32.6 million householder gas users, 13,838 industrial users and 213,951 commercial users in 26 regions across the country.

Average selling prices for residential users during April-September period were up 4.4% to 2.6 yuan ($0.3694) per cubic metre. Prices for industrial users were up 6.1% to 2.61 yuan per cubic metre.

“The Group will continue to...promote the pipeline connections for city and township residents, increase the ‘coal to gas conversion’ installation...and to vigorously develop the rural gas market,” it said.

($1 = 7.8249 Hong Kong dollars)

$1 = 7.0389 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Muyu Xu and Shivani Singh; editing by Jason Neely

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