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China: Nine provinces may face winter blackouts

"The coming of winter will once again increase power consumption. Together with the reduced power generation in the summer, this sharpens the contradiction between supply and demand of power," commission spokesman Cao Yushu told a press conference.

A total of 24 provinces suffered from blackouts in the first nine months of this year, despite the amount of power generated over this period reaching 1,557.4 billion kilowatts, 14.5 per cent higher than the previous year, statistics indicated.

The nationwide power shortage had surpassed 30 million kilowatts this summer, added Xu Zhimin, a commission deputy director in charge of economic development.

The overall economic situation of industrial and transportation sectors is satisfactory, indicating that the central government's macroeconomic control measures have been effective, said Cao.

The incremental value of industrial products in the first three quarters grew 17 per cent, realizing a total profit of 808.8 billion yuan (US$97.4 billion), Cao said.

The trend of excessive investment growth in some sectors, such as steel, cement and electrolytic aluminum, has been controlled to some extent, Cao said.

Meanwhile, the supply-demand relationship in the coal, electricity, oil and transportation sectors remains strained, he said.

For example, soaring international oil prices have introduced an element of uncertainty that threatens the domestic price system and economic development, he said.

According to Xu, China processed 202 million tons of crude oil in the first nine months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 15.4 per cent, which include 130 million tons of domestically produced oil and 85.8 million tons of imports, which witnessed increases of 3 per cent and 36.2 per cent.

Cao pointed out that problems related with the overproduction in some industries due to unreasonable expansion have also started to emerge, Cao said.

Cao noted that in order to tackle these problems, it is crucial to continue implementing the macroeconomic control policies, cut unreasonable investment and reinforce efforts to structural adjustment.

Regarding the energy sector, working programmes should be drafted to ensure that power supplies to households, agriculture-related sectors and major production units are not affected, Cao suggested.

Concrete plans should also be mapped out in advance to better arrange the production, transportation and sales of coal and other important materials in order to ease the negative influence of oil price fluctuations on the international market, he said.

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