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China Natural Gas Output Rises in March to Highest in Two Years

China’s natural gas production rose in March to the highest level in two years as the nation seeks to use more of the cleaner-burning fuel.

Natural gas output in the world’s largest energy consumer rose 7.6 percent to 11 billion cubic meters last month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing show today. That’s the highest since March 2012. NBS didn’t release output figures for January 2013 because the data was distorted by the Lunar New Year holiday.

The Chinese government sees expanding gas supply as a way to curb air pollution that has frequently exceeded limits recommended by the World Health Organization. The National Energy Administration said in its work plan in January that gas output is forecast to rise 12 percent from a year earlier to 131 billion cubic meters this year.

“Higher natural gas output was boosted by robust demand as end users continue to switch their boilers from coal-powered to gas-fed amid environmental requirements,” Wang Ruiqi, an analyst with ICIS-C1 Energy, a Shanghai-based consultancy, said by phone.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at the National People’s Congress in March that pollution is a major problem and the government will "declare war" on smog by removing high-emission cars from the road and closing coal-fired furnaces.

Crude processing last month increased 2.6 percent from a year ago to 41.9 million metric tons, and crude output fell 0.1 percent to 17.64 million tons, according to today’s data. Power output rose 6.2 percent to 452.8 billion kilowatt hours.

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