An "equipment fault" brought a Central Asia pipeline's gas supply to "the brink of collapse" Wednesday, news website thepaper.cn reported on Friday, citing the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).
Central Asia accounts for about 40 percent of China's imported natural gas, and the abrupt decline slashed the nation's gas stockpile to one of its lowest, Shenzhen-based business news website stcn.com reported on Thursday, citing unnamed officials close to the issue.
Gas supply from Central Asia plunged 50 million cubic meters a day on the Central Asia-China pipeline as the State-owned enterprise said it would move to safely monitor and control supply.
The network was "on the brink of collapse after gas transmitted from Central Asia shrank from 120 million to 70 million cubic meters a day," read one of the gas corporation's announcements published Wednesday.
Fifty million cubic meters of gas amounts to more than the combined daily gas consumption of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province and North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, thepaper.cn reported.
The supply shortfall is estimated to be 30 million cubic meters of gas a day, thepaper.cn reported.
Officials in Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia, Northwest China's Gansu and Qinghai provinces and Central China's Henan Province immediately instituted measures aimed at reducing gas use.
"Frequent equipment failures in recent days" caused the collapse in supply, CNPC said in another announcement Wednesday.
"Since January, Turkmenistan's energy major Natural Gas Konzern has halted operations three times due to equipment faults which led to an ongoing decline in gas imports that was below the bilaterally agreed supply amount," the announcement said.
Turkmenistan is China's largest source of imported natural gas and it was unclear when volume could return to normal.
The pipeline problem arrived amid authorities' efforts to shift Chinese fuel consumption from coal to gas to address well-documented nationwide air quality issues.
"It will be a short-run impact after the reported equipment failure is fixed," Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Friday.
The incident nonetheless taught China a valuable lesson about self-reliance rather than "pinning hopes on someone else," Lin said.
The country should take a look at exploring shale gas, Lin said, as shale gas has become an important resource in the US.
Newspaper headline: Pipeline problems hit gas supply to China