China's Nat Gas Demand Could Jump This Year

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Natural gas demand in China, already the world's largest energy consumer, could rise by more than 16% this year as the world's largest polluter looks to promote the use of cleaner burning fuels in a bid to lower its pollution footprint. China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said Chinese natural gas consumption could rise 16.1% to 124.6 billion cubic meters.

The natural gas output may increase 12.5 percent to 106.3 billion cubic meters, Bloomberg News reported, citing the Ministry. China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, is also looking to tap into its shale gas reserves in fashion similar to what energy producers have done in the U.S.

Deposits of natural gas from shale formations in China are 12 times higher than conventional gas reserves in the nation, Bloomberg reported, citing the U.S. Energy Department. China's first horizontal shale well was completed in the Sichuan province in late March.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A) and BP (BP), Europe's two largest oil companies, and Chevron (CVX), the second-largest U.S. oil company, are among the Western energy producers working with Chinese firms to tap into the country's shale gas reserves.