Published: Wednesday 15 March 2000

Beijing's efforts to shift to cleaner energy and halt the massive pollution from fossil fuels received a boost with the approval of two multi-billion dollar liquefied natural gas (lng) projects. The state council had also approved the construction of a gas receiving terminal, two gas power plants and a pipeline in the southern province of Guangdong.

The Business Weekly said a 4,200-km pipeline would be constructed to carry lng from gasfields in the northwestern Xinjiang region to the port of Shanghai in the east. The project is likely to cost us $7.5 billion, although the paper quoted us $13.25 billion.

Global energy giants bp Amoco and Enron Development Corp have already expressed interest, although foreign investments in the project will not be permitted to exceed 50 per cent. The paper said the pipeline will carry 20 billion cubic metres of gas a year from the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang, with proven reserves of 200 billion cubic metres, to Shanghai.

"The project is considered essential because rapid economic growth has resulted in an energy supply gap and serious environmental protection problems in Guangdong," said Yao Xinhuan, deputy director of the 508-km Guangdong lng pipeline project leading group office.

Environmental groups in Hong Kong, which is plagued by pollution from factories in Guangdong, praised the move towards lng but warned that Beijing needed to do more in the future.

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