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BEIJING, April 26 (Reuters) - China must brace to cope with power shortfalls as the country enters the high energy-consuming summer months, and will ensure supply to residents and key sectors, the head of the National Energy Administration has said.
Liu Tienan, the head of the energy administration, said supplies of coal, oil, natural gas and power in the first quarter had been steady, the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Monday. But Liu warned the peak summer season was likely to bring strains.
"Owing to excessively heady demand, even with production and supply growth in the double digits, supplies of coal, power and oil in some regions are still tightening, and future trends give no grounds for optimism," Liu told an official meeting on Monday, according to Xinhua.
"Our country must vigorously prepare for the peak summer season in power (demand)," he added.
Liu did not give details of how the government plans to cope with any power shortages, but he said energy supplies for residents and important industries must be ensured.
"Ensure the supply of coal, power, oil and gas for key sectors, key periods and key regions," he said, without specifying them.
Liu's comments echoed a warning from the National Energy Administration last week, when it said power demand would grow faster than it previously thought. [ID:nL3E7FM05Z]
The agency forecasts electricity consumption would grow about 11 percent year-on-year to 2.2 trillion kWh in the first half of 2011, with full-year consumption of 4.61-4.69 trillion kWh, a growth rate of 10-12 percent.
China's overall power consumption in March increased 13.4 percent from a year earlier and gained 12.7 percent on the year in the first quarter, as pent-up demand emerged after a power crackdown late last year. [ID:nL3E7FE054]
The central provinces of Hunan, Jiangxi and Chongqing have introduced power use curbs since March, and Hubei province is also likely to impose restrictions, with low coal stocks at power plants and low water levels for hydropower generation.[ID:nL3E7FI1ED][ID:nL3E7FK0DQ]
Liu called for longer term reforms to smooth out energy demand and supply.
"Our country should speed up developing an emergency coal stockpile and energy pricing reforms," he told the meeting.
"The task of controlling overall energy consumption to within reasonable levels is urgent and arduous." (Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Ken Wills)