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BEIJING, Feb 10 (Reuters) - PetroChina, Asia's largest oil and gas producer, has found 308.2 billion cubic metres of technically recoverable gas in southwest China's Sichuan basin, according to parent CNPC, one of China's largest gas discoveries in more than a decade.
China, the top energy user and fourth-largest consumer of gas, is racing to increase supply of the cleaner-burning fuel by boosting domestic exploration and raising imports, as demand is forecast to nearly quadruple between 2011 and 2030.
The Moxi block of An'yue field was officially certified to hold 440.4 bcm of proven geological reserves, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) said in Monday report on its website (news.cnpc.com.cn), citing PetroChina's Exploration and Development department.
PetroChina is now building a production facility able to pump 4 bcm a year under phase-1 development, which is to be followed by another 6 bcm/year in a second phase, CNPC said.
CNPC gave no timeline for the development and did not say how much it would cost. CNPC and PetroChina officials were not immediately available for comment.
The find is "set to provide abundant gas resources to the national gas grids," said the report.
China's largest gas find was announced in 2001 at the Sulige field, in northern China's Ordos basin, also operated by PetroChina. That find held proven geological reserves of 533.7 bcm of natural gas as of 2003.
PetroChina has since 2011 drilled two exploration wells - Gao Shi-1 and Moxi-8 - in An'yue field, both striking high gas flows, according to the CNPC report.
Single-well production hit 1.1 million cubic metres per day on average during trial productions, and 600,000 cubic metres per day in development stages.
China produced a total of 121 bcm of natural gas last year, up 9.8 percent over 2012. The 2013 output includes 3 bcm of coal-seam gas and a tiny 200 million cubic metres of shale gas, the government said in January.
Imports last year amounted to 53.4 bcm, or 31.5 percent of China's total implied gas demand of 169 bcm. (Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Tom Hogue)