China orders power plants to build 7-day coal inventories -sources

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A coal-burning power plant can be seen behind a factory in the city of Baotou, in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, October 31, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

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BEIJING, July 19 (Reuters) - China's state planner has ordered power plants to build their coal inventory to the equivalent of at least seven days of consumption by July 21, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.

The order came as the government strives to ensure electricity generation at coal-fired power plants amid surging power consumption from industrial and residential users.

The sources pointed to a statement issued on Sunday, seen by Reuters, in which the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) asked major coal-fired power plants to submit by midday on Monday (0400 GMT) details of how they would lift inventory, and to complete the stockpile build by Wednesday.

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"We are in the peak power consumption period and must guarantee coal supply to power plants...and will not allow the shutdown of power generation units due to a lack of coal," the statement said.

The NDRC has already announced it will release more than 10 million tonnes of coal from reserves to cool the market while adding more coal production capacity in the country.

Average daily coal consumption had risen to more than 2.2 million tonnes at key power plants in eight provinces in eastern China as of July 15, the highest level in the corresponding period in history, according to data compiled by China Coal Transportation and Distribution Association (CCTD).

Meanwhile, coal inventory at the power plants fell to 24.2 million tonnes, the lowest level in the same period.

Eleven provinces across China recorded a record-high power load last week as warmer than normal weather led to higher use of air conditioning.

The NDRC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Reporting by Muyu Xu and Shivani Singh; editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan

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