SINGAPORE (Reuters) -Sinopec Corp said on Friday it expects sales prices for natural gas in China in the fourth quarter to rise at least 20% versus a year earlier because of peak winter heating demand and in line with surging import costs.
The expected price increase followed 17.4% growth in Sinopec’s gas sales prices during the first nine months of this year, on back of the rallying global gas market that was bolstered by thin stocks in Europe and robust demand growth in China.
China’s natural gas demand is forecast to rise 10% this winter versus a year ago, after more households shifted to gas from coal and a power crunch led to more gas-fired electricity production.
Sinopec has said it aimed to raise imports of liquefied natural gas by about 9% for this winter versus last year and operate its receiving terminals at full capacity while adding new storages.
The state oil and gas producer also boosted its domestic gas production by nearly 14% on year between January and September.
The firm, Asia’s largest oil refiner, expects China’s gasoline consumption to peak around 2025/26, while diesel may have peaked in 2017, said Huang Wensheng, a company vice president.
Sinopec, which reported on Thursday a near 150% growth in net profit for the first three quarters, is pivoting to producing natural gas and hydrogen as it aims to become a carbon-neutral energy provider by 2050.
The refiner’s fuel sales in the third quarter fell 2.8 million tonnes versus the second quarter due to floods and a re-emergence of the coronavirus in parts of the country.
It expects its fourth quarter chemical division to post a strong performance as solid Chinese demand for petrochemical products offsets higher feedstock costs.
(Reporting by Chen Aizhu and Muyu Xu; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Stephen Coates)