China will have to import half of its demand for natural gas by 2020, experts say, calling for longer-term strategies in addition to the government's five-year plan.

The nation's natural gas output will exceed 100 billion m3 by 2013, 220 billion m3 by 2023 and 300 billion m3 by 2030, Pang Changwei, a researcher with China University of Petroleum, said at a seminar on Sino-Russian energy cooperation.

"If natural gas is to make up 10% to 12% of China's total energy consumption by 2020, the nation will be importing half of the demand even if output reaches 220 billion m3," Pang noted. "That is to say China will consume 450 billion m3 of natural gas a year by 2020."

Globally, natural gas accounts for 24% of all energy consumption, compared to just 4% in China, signaling huge potential, according to Sun Yongxiang, a researcher with the Development and Research Institute of the State Council, China's cabinet.

Recent talks about China buying natural gas from Russia collapsed as the two countries failed to agree on prices while Japan has been trying to step up natural gas imports in the wake of the tsunami disaster that raised safety concern over nuclear power. China is turning to central Asian countries as well as Burma to secure natural gas supplies.

China imported 54.8% of its demand for crude oil in the first half of this year, up one percentage point from a year earlier, according to the National and Development and Reform Commission, the nation's top economic planner.


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