Gas shortage for winter heating sparks outrage

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/3 22:56:00

Some regions in China especially northern provinces are facing an acute shortage of natural gas as the demand for heating is rising in winter, since the government is making efforts to ban the burning of coal to curb air pollution.

The shortfall in natural gas has sparked resentment after some households in these regions have not been supplied with natural gas for heating in winter either due to a gas supply shortage or lagging gas pipeline construction.

While it is the right time for authorities to replace coal with natural gas for cleaner air, local governments need to proceed cautiously to avoid disrupting people's lives in cold weather, experts warned on Sunday.

The Hebei Development and Reform Commission has raised an orange alert for a shortage of natural gas since Tuesday, which means the province is short by 10 to 20 percent, news portal Caixin reported on Saturday.

Local media also reported a similar shortage of regions such as Shaanxi and Shandong provinces  and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

The shortage comes as China promotes the use of cleaner fuel for heating in northern China instead of coal burning.

China Energy News reported that the average price of natural gas in China has risen to about 7,600 yuan ($1,149) per ton on Friday from 4,000 yuan two weeks ago.

The heating season always leads to a shortage in natural gas, but this year's situation is worse primarily from government's efforts to promote clean energy to curb pollution, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The government has no intention to burden vulnerable groups with a higher price of natural gas and suffer from the cold winter weather, Lin said, adding the government has to move to help control its price and issue administrative orders to hasten pipeline construction, Lin added.

"It's the right time for China to switch to the use of natural gas for heating, but the project shouldn't be carried out in haste," Jia Weilie, a deputy director at the Beijing Academy of Ecocivilization, told the Global Times.

"Local governments need to communicate well with higher authorities regarding the pace of the implementation and address the public's concern to avoid public outrage," Jia said.

Posted in: SOCIETY

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