China increased liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports in the first half (H1) of 2017, as part of an effort to clean up its coal-dominated energy mix.
The LNG channeled into the world's biggest energy consumer rose 38.3 percent year on year to 15.89 million tonnes in the January-June period, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs Sunday.
The growth rate is higher than the 21.2-percent increase registered in the same period last year, partly encouraged by the lowering policy barriers for LNG from the United States to enter the Chinese market.
The country had already imported 400,000 tonnes of U.S. gas in the first five months, in sharp contrast to zero a year ago, Vice Premier Wang Yang said Tuesday during his visit to the United States.
The country's demand for natural gas is on the rise as the government eyes the clean fuel to help gradually replace dirtier coal. Coal consumption accounted for 59.8 percent of China's overall energy use in H1.
Measures have been taken to encourage imports and explore the potential of domestic shale gas reserves.
Pipeline networks for natural gas will be expanded to 104,000 km by 2020, a substantial improvement from 64,000 km in 2015. The figure will go up to 163,000 km in 2025, when all Chinese cities with more than half a million residents will have the access.
The government plans to increase the proportion of natural gas in energy consumption from the current 5.9 percent to around 10 percent by 2020, and to 15 percent by 2030.