China’s state utilities can issue over $29 billion in bonds to buy fuel

Tuesday, 31 January 2023
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State-owned power generators in China have been granted permission to issue 200 billion yuan ($29.1 billion) in special bonds to raise funds to purchase natural gas, oil and especially coal to generate electricity. Ensuring sufficient fuel supplies will be a priority for the government this year in the face of high commodity prices, the state asset regulator said. 

The bonds are meant to “fortify energy supply” in China as the country strives to rekindle the economy after a series to Covid-related lockdowns. The State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) vowed to allocate the funds to power plants “in a timely manner” to meet their fuel needs this year.

SASAC said it was currently able to monitor the operations of 195 coal mines, 572 coal-powered plants, 727 hydro-electric plants and 96 gas-powered plants owned by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) across the country. Centrally administered state-owned enterprises generated 5 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity since 2022, accounting for 63.1 percent of the China’s total, the regulator specified.

Over the past summer, China had been hit by a power shortage due to heatwaves and drought In the Yangtze River basin. “Since the end of September 2021, State Grid Corp of China and China Southern Power Grid, two central SOEs, have organized cross-regional and cross-provincial power support more than 3,000 times and transmitted nearly 50 billion kWh of electricity to places in need,” the regulator explained.

Ensuring sufficient and affordable fuel is vital this year as the global gas shortage persists, which is why CNOOC and China Petrochemical Corp accelerate the pace off bringing offshore gas fields into operation. The natural gas output of central SOEs increased 7.1 percent on an annual basis to 189.99 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2022, while their total stocks reached 17.72 bcm, soaring 17.2 percent year-on-year. 

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