The country imported 53 billion cubic meters of natural gas last year, 31.6 percent of its domestic gas output plus imported volume, according to a report released by an economic and technological academy under China National Petroleum Corporation, the country's state-owned oil giant.
In 2013, local authorities more strongly promoted the use of natural gas to reduce dependency on coal, prompted by the needs for environmental protection and economic advances.
The drive contributed to the country's surging imports of natural gas, noted the report.
Despite the increased imports, it said, "there would have been a supply-demand gap of 22 billion cubic meters in 2013 in the case that all the needs for natural gas were satisfied."
The report estimated that
The figure indicated a more tightened balance between supply and demand and increasing seasonal scarcity of natural gas in the year.
The Chinese central government initiated a nationwide reform of the natural gas pricing mechanism in July, 2013, hoping to bring it gradually into line with the market situation.