* NDRC: Some areas may see fuel supply tightness in winter
* Transport networks face challenges in maintaining supplies
* To curb demand from high-energy, polluting industries (Adds details, background)
SHANGHAI, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Some parts of China could face an intermittent shortage of crucial coal, oil, power or gas supplies crucial for heating during the winter months, China’s top economic planning body said in a statement on Wednesday.
Most of China’s resource production bases, including coal and and oil, are either concentrated in the northern or western provinces, away from the key demand areas located in the southern and eastern region, such as Shanghai and Guangdong.
Any supply shortfall could prompt a surge in import demand as utilities and firms seek alternative fuel supplies to feed their power plants.
“The task of guaranteeing stable supplies is very difficult,” the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said on its website.
“Bodies charged with regulation at every level of the economy will further improve and enhance their risk awareness, make a full estimate of the potential problems and take effective steps to prevent them.”
In a sign that the government may again crack down on steel mills which have only recently resumed production, the NDRC said it would need to curb power demand from energy intensive and polluting industries from “rebounding excessively.”
Prices of coal and liquefied natural gas jumped last winter, when violent snowstorms caused a transport gridlock and crippled power supplies.
The NDRC has also called for efforts to improve coal production to ensure stable supplies in the winter and spring months, as well as to guarantee “stable supplies” of refined oil and natural gas.
Almost every winter, China’s energy market suffers a new variant of the same no-win situation as state controls exacerbate supply shortages that only urgent and pricey imports can relieve.
Despite cold weather and rising fuel costs, a state campaign to stamp out energy wastage has prompted officials in many provinces to cut power supplies to factories, businesses and even homes and public facilities. (Reporting by Fayen Wong, Editing by Jacqueline Wong)