BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's first floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal is expected to start operation next month, local media reported on Wednesday, just in time to help ease a looming winter supply crunch in the world's top energy consumer.
"Construction of China's first floating LNG terminal is coming to an end ... It will be ready to supply clean energy to Tianjin city next month," Beijing Daily said without giving further details.
To address a looming gas crunch, Beijing has been asking energy companies to boost gas supplies by maximising production at domestic fields, raising gas imports and prioritising supplies to public transportation and residential users over the winter period.
The China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), parent of CNOOC Ltd, in August won final government approval in August to build the country's first floating LNG terminal in the northern port of Tianjin.
CNOOC officials were not immediately available for comment.
The first phase of the floating LNG project, costing 3.3 billion yuan (S$673 million), is designed to have an annual receiving capacity of 2.2 million tonnes or 3.0 billion cubic metres (bcm), CNOOC has said.
The second phase of the project will involve the construction of a conventional onshore LNG terminal, with a receiving capacity of no less than 6.0 million tonnes a year.
CNOOC received last month its first cargo of LNG from Qatar at its new 3.5 million tonne-per-year terminal at Zhuhai in the southern province of Guangdong.
The Zhuhai terminal, CNOOC's fifth, brings its total annual receiving capacity to 21.3 million tonnes.
China's top two gas producers PetroChina and Sinopec also plan to boost domestic gas supplies over the next few months.
PetroChina is in addition scouring global markets for LNG imports, while Sinopec cut gas demand from its refinery and chemical plant to ration supplies to residential users.