December 26, 2017 / 4:22 AM / 5 months ago

China probes 17 gas firms in anti-monopoly investigation: state planner

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said on Tuesday it launched an anti-monopoly investigation into 17 natural gas suppliers on Dec. 20.

In a statement, China’s state planning agency said it was investigating whether the companies might have broken anti-trust laws amid surging gas prices driven by Beijing’s efforts to switch millions of household from burning coal to using gas for heating this winter in an ambitious drive to cut pollution.

The NDRC said PetroChina gas sales unit Qaqing was one of the companies under investigation, without identifying the others.

PetroChina wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The NDRC also said it had already punished four Chinese utilities for overcharging on heating fees and gas prices.

Heilongjiang Zhongxin Power Heating Co, Zhejiang Haiyan Gas Co, Xuanhan Hexin Natural Gas Co and Shangdong Hengyuan Gas Station were fined a total 540,000 yuan ($82,430.16) for lifting gas prices without approval from central government, the NDRC said.

Reporting by Meng Meng and Ryan Woo; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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