* Millions of households switching to gas for heating
* Shift is part of government’s campaign against pollution (Adds detail, background)
BEIJING, Dec 7 (Reuters) - China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) on Thursday warned there could be natural gas shortages in China this winter if the country is hit by “extreme” weather.
The state-owned company, a key gas supplier to the world’s No.2 economy, also forecast in a statement that Chinese gas consumption would rise 16.4 percent to a record high in 2017.
China’s gas consumption stood at just over 200 billion cubic metres (Bcm) in 2016, but the figure is set to rise sharply this year as a government drive to reduce pollution has seen millions of residential household switch to gas for heating.
Cutting off urban industrial users or customers making the shift from coal to gas were the main options to address supply shortages, CNPC said.
The CNPC statement is the latest in a chorus of warnings made in the industry as temperatures drop in northern China, which is now three weeks into its peak winter heating season.
Last week, two major gas-consuming Chinese provinces, Hebei and Shandong, warned of shortages and were forced to cut gas supply to factories, highlighting China’s inadequate infrastructure and insufficient domestic output.
CNPC recently completed construction of a fourth string on its key Shaanxi-Beijing gas pipeline system, state media reported last month. The fourth line has an annual transmission capacity of 25 Bcm.
But if this new line cannot reach full capacity this winter, and the first three Shaanxi-Beijing lines and northern China’s liquefied natural gas terminals fail to run at their expected rates, the “tight supply situation will worsen”, CNPC said.
Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Richard Pullin and Joseph Radford