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China says energy supply rising but not enough

BEIJING (AFP) - China said its supplies of coal, electricity and oil remained insufficient despite increases in production and imports.

"Although there has been a rapid increase in China's coal, electricity, oil and transport supply, it is not adequate to satisfy increased demand," Xinhua news agency said quoting State Development and Reform Commission official Jia Yinsong.

Jia told a seminar on the steel market that China's crude oil production rose 2.9 percent year-on-year to 145 million tons in the first 10 months and it imported 85.8 million tons, up 36.2 percent year-on-year during the same period.

But key state oil companies China Petroleum Corporation and China Petro-Chemical Corp have almost reached their refining capacity, he said.

And although electricity generation grew 15 percent year-on-year to 1.74 trillion kilowatt hours in the first 10 months, this is still insufficient to meet growing demand, he said.

Jia noted that 24 out of China's 31 provinces were forced to ration power through 'brownouts' during the summer months.

China's booming economy has created a massive appetite for energy. The country faced a 30,000 megawatt power shortage during the summer months -- the worst since the 1980s.

Meanwhile, although coal production has been growing rapidly, the capacity of state-owned coal mines has nearly saturated, Jia said.

"The carrying capacity of the railways only met one-third of the country's coal transport demand," he said.

The gap between supply and demand posed a threat to economic development and the bottleneck would continue in 2005, he said.

11/13/2004 - 18:54 GMT - AFP

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