The authorities are gearing up to restore fuel and power
supplies in regions hit by the worst snowstorm in decades,
officials said yesterday.
Heavy snow and sleet have stricken central, southern and eastern
China in the past few days, paralyzing railways, roads and airports
in eight provinces including Hunan, Anhui and Jiangsu.
An electricity pylon lies crumpled on the ground on Saturday
in DanZhai County, Guizhou Province after being weighed down by ice
The snow has severely disrupted transport and logistics, forcing
a number of power plants to suspend operations because of fuel
"The situation is severely threatening people's livelihoods,"
Zhu Hongren, a senior official from the National Development and
Reform Commission (NDRC) said yesterday.
China, which generates 78 percent of its electricity from coal,
suspended 7 percent of its coal-fired power plants after snowstorms
disrupted the transportation of fuel.
Zhu said 17 provinces have suffered power shortages and the
closure of coal-fired power plants has forced 13 provinces to
The government should make ensuring fuel supply a "top
priority", Premier Wen Jiabao said at a conference held over the
To ease the coal shortage, the Ministry of Railways increased
shipments to 36,000 train carriages a day on Saturday, Railway
Minister Liu Zhijun said, an increase of 30 percent on the same
time last year.
The Railway Ministry also said yesterday it will work closely
with power plants in snow-hit areas and increase coal
The ministry said it moves 33,000 train carriages of coal for
power plants each day, the highest level so far.
The NDRC is also stepping up efforts to increase fuel
It told Sinopec and CNPC, China's two largest oil producers, to
ramp up fuel production and distribution yesterday to help ease the
The commission also told local governments to guarantee
electricity supplies to residents first, and limit supplies to
companies that are heavy polluters or known for their high energy
Hunan province was among the worst hit areas by the snow. Its
Huanghua Airport in the provincial capital Changsha has been closed
Airports in at least 10 cities, such as Wuhan, Nanjing and
Changzhou, were closed temporarily yesterday.
Meanwhile, power lines from the Three Gorges hydroelectric dam
in Hubei province to Shanghai were damaged in the snowstorms, the
Xinhua News Agency reported.
In the Sichuan capital Chengdu, blackouts were predicted as
power companies struggled to meet demand for electricity following
incessant snowfall since the beginning of the month.
The province's power company has said it is facing an
electricity shortage of 70 million kWh.
Li Chuncheng, Party chief of Chengdu, said the city has enough
power to meet only two-thirds of the demand from the public and
Priority has been given to the public, he said.
The provincial government said there have been nearly 20,000
blackouts in the province this month.
Transport problems set to spur further price rises
Widespread snowstorms buffeting the country may further drive up
consumer prices if disrupted travel on roads and rail is not
restored soon, economists have said.
The disruption has caused a shortage of food and agricultural
products, the Ministry of Commerce said on its website, while the
Ministry of Agriculture said the wholesale price index of
agricultural products surged to 174.8 points yesterday, up from 155
points on Jan 1.
"These developments will likely push up near-term CPI
inflation," Liang Hong, an economist with Goldman Sachs in Hong
The consumer price index (CPI) rose 4.8 percent last year, the
highest rise in more than a decade. Food, which accounts for a
third of the CPI basket, was a main driver of the inflation.
Recently, the government has introduced several measures, including
a temporary price freeze on some products, to prevent the price
hikes evolving into overall inflation.
"Prices will rise further if transportation is not restored
quickly," Chen Jijun, an analyst with CITIC Securities, said.
The Ministry of Commerce said this week that local authorities
can deploy food reserves to deal with intense market
Local suppliers have also been urged to increase production of
cooking oil, meat, eggs and vegetables.
(China Daily January 29, 2008)