Coal reserve for power falls amid rising prices

Updated: 2008-04-23 11:47

BEIJING  -- China's reserves of coal for power generation was only sufficient for 12 days of consumption, three days fewer than the March record.

The national coal stockpile have dropped to fewer than seven days in some Chinese provinces, vice chairman of the China Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) Wang Yeping said on Tuesday.

The nation's entire coal reserves slumped to 46.69 million tons as of April 20, down 12 percent from 53 million tons in the early March, said Wang at a news conference on Tuesday.

Coal inventories for plants in Anhui, Chongqing and Hebei provinces were only enough for less than a week, he said.

The government was working to address the shortage, he said, without giving details.

Coal-fired power comprises more than 70 percent electricity consumed in China, the world's second largest electricity consumer after the United States.

Reasons for the shortages were multi-dimensional, Wang said without elaborating.

Power supplies to energy-intensive industries were cut during the severe winter storms in the first two months of the year, contributing to record coal prices.

Seventy percent of power plants suffered heavy losses due to rising coal prices, said Liu Nanchang, official with the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) on April 11.

The nation in January froze electricity prices to prevent rising coal costs from flowing through to end users and contributing to inflation.

"We need to comprehensively consider the situation before adjusting power prices, to take into account the affordability to both consumers and producers, Wang said.

Lifting electricity prices would push up the consumer price index (CPI), which was already running high, he said.

China produced 569.3 million tons of coal in the first quarter this year up 14.6 percent year on year, according to the Beijing-based China Mainland Marketing Research Co..

The winter storms earlier this year disrupted power supplies, prompting the country's power grid companies to lift spending on repairing and upgrading their transmission lines.

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