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Chinese accelerate LNG imports

Hong Kong: China, the world's second-biggest energy user, may increase liquefied natural gas imports from Australia fourfold this year as power plants use gas to generate electricity to cut pollution, an official told Bloomberg.

Guangdong Dapeng LNG Co., China's only LNG import terminal, may import 2.6 million metric tons of the fuel this year, compared with 687,533 tons in 2006, said an official from the plant, asking not to be named because of company policy. China National Offshore Oil Corp. and BP Plc own the terminal.

The $900 million Guangdong Dapeng import facility gets most of its LNG from Australia's North West Shelf project, which has a contract to supply China an average of 3.3 million tons a year. China plans to build as many as six LNG terminals in the next three years to meet a target of expanding the share of energy produced from gas to 5.3 percent by 2010 from 3 percent now.

''The volume will ramp up over an agreed period before reaching the 3.3 million ton-a-year plateau in around 2010,'' Hannah Fitzhardinge, a spokeswoman for Woodside Petroleum Ltd., operator of North West Shelf, said in an e-mailed statement on July 23.

China's LNG imports rose 45 percent over the whole of 2006 to 1.02 million tons in the first six months of this year. In May and June, the nation supplemented shipments from Australia under a 25-year contract with spot purchases, paying twice the cost for a cargo from Oman, according to data from the Beijing- based Customs General Administration of China.

The country paid $8.30 per million British thermal units for the Oman cargo, compared with the $164 a ton, or $3.15 per million British thermal units, for the Australian supplies. Guangdong Dapeng has room to process one spot cargo a month in addition to supplies from Australia. An LNG cargo typically carries between 55,000 tons and 60,000 tons of supplies.  [02/08/07]

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