BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s state planner has ordered eight regions to meet with natural gas producers, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal operators and traders on Monday to “regulate” the market as prices of the clean fuel soar due to winter heating demand, a government official said.
The meetings highlight Beijing’s concerns about rising gas prices amid its policy to shift millions of homes to gas heating from coal for the winter along with thousands of factories and businesses to combat air pollution. Last week, the industrial provinces of Hebei and Shandong warned of gas shortages and ordered cuts to some industrial and commercial users.
The meetings should warn the market participants that the government will punish any companies found to be involved in manipulating prices or monopolizing the market, the official at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said. He declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
The eight regions include top natural gas producing regions Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Sichuan and major gas consuming regions such as Hebei, Jiangsu, Liaoning and Beijing, he said.
The NDRC was not immediately available for comment.
Wholesale prices of LNG ex-factory in Inner Mongolia were as high as 7,750 yuan ($1,172) per tonne and 8,050 yuan per tonne in Shanxi on Monday, up from around 7,200 yuan a week ago, according to data from market.yeslng.com, an LNG price monitoring agency based in eastern China’s Jiangsu province.
Domestic prices hit their highest since at least 2011 last week.
($1 = 6.6137 Chinese yuan renminbi)
Reporting by Meng Meng and Josephine Mason; Additional reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Christian Schmollinger