BEIJING (Reuters) - China's top coal-producing province Shanxi called on local authorities to ensure natural gas supplies during winter and not to "blindly" push ahead with the central government's coal-to-gas policy, state-owned news agency Xinhua reported on Monday.
"Authorities should guarantee gas supply before setting coal-to-gas conversion tasks ... and ensure a minimum three-day volume of gas storage in the local region," said a statement issued by Shanxi Development and Reform Commission (DRC), Xinhau reported.
The statement highlights growing concerns that the country's insufficient pipeline and storage infrastructure could cause power outages during the peak winter demand season.
"The task of ensuring stable supply for gas is tough, as gas demand is growing rapidly amid an official policy to switch from coal to gas," said Shanxi DRC in the statement cited by Xinhua.
China's central government vowed to improve air quality during the winter in 28 smog-prone northern cities. Its plans include the elimination of a total 44,000 coal-fired industrial boilers and replacing coal-fueled household heating with gas or electricity in millions of residences.
Shanxi must get rid of 969 industrial boilers and switch 390,000 households to natural gas heating by the end of October, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in August.
The provincial government also urged coal miners to increase the supply of clean and high-quality coal during the coming winter to cop with possible fuel shortages.
(Reporting by Muyu Xu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Tom Hogue)