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China plans to double natural gas output by 2015
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China aims to more than double its annual natural gas output to 160 billion cubic meters by 2015.

The country also wants to increase its annual production of coal to more than 3.3 billion tonnes and crude oil production to 200 million tonnes by 2015, said chief planner Hu Cunzhi of the Ministry of Land and Resources at a press conference on Wednesday.

That represents an increase of about 30 percent and 7 percent for coal and oil output respectively from the levels in 2007. Levels for 2008 have not been released.

In addition to the natural gas output, 10-billion cubic meters of coal bed methane will be produced each year by draining gas from coal mines by 2015, said Hu.

China's energy consumption expanded by an average annual rate of 5.4 percent between 1979 and 2007. That fueled an annual economic growth of 9.8 percent on average in that period.

China will set up reserves of oil and certain varieties of coal and ore to tackle market fluctuation, prepare for emergencies and guarantee national resources supply, Hu said while citing a state plan on mineral resources development.

The plan has been approved by the State Council, or China's Cabinet, said Hu.

The country started construction of four strategic oil reserve bases in the coastal cities of Zhenhai, Zhoushan, Huangdao and Dalian in 2003. The first two oil bases were put into use in 2008. It is unclear when Huangdao and Dalian will be put in to use.

The four bases will be able to hold oil reserves equal to ten days of national crude import after construction is completed.

The plan is important for the country in promoting energy saving, environmental protection and providing guarantee for stable and rapid economic growth, said Hu.

The government will improve the efficiency of utilizing mineral resources and increase the proportion of medium- and large-sized mines, according to the plan.

(Xinhua News Agency January 8, 2009)

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