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China Beefs up Coal Transportation to Ease Power Supply Strain

China's railway authorities vowed to step up power coal transportation to Beijing and its neighboring city of Tianjin and Tangshan on Monday, in a drive to close the demand-supply gap in the region and to ensure the power demand in the summer peak and for the coming Olympic Games.

A source with the Ministry of Railways said more efforts will be made to replenish the power coal reserve in the region to the normal level. However the source did not reveal the current reserve total or how much in deficit it was.

Industry reports showed 343.85 million tons of power-coal were supplied in the first half of this year, an increase of 15.6 percent year on year, while 345.11 million tons were consumed in the same period, up 17.5 percent from a year ago.

Despite enhanced transportation, the power-coal supply strain remained grim in some areas where population and heavy industries are densely-located.

The ministry said 24 thermal-power-plants in the region should be given priority in power-coal delivery.

An averaged of 3,800 carriages of coal has headed for the area daily since July 10, 10 percent more than the same time last year.

Some 70 percent of the power plants in China are coal-fired. An earlier report released by the East China Electricity Regulatory Bureau (ECERB) found that 80 percent of China's coal-fired power plants were in deficit in the first five months this year, as thermal coal prices had risen by 60 yuan per ton since the beginning of the year.

Transport costs, which have risen even faster than thermal coal prices, have also put power plants in a tight spot. Because of oil price rises, the contracted transport fee in most eastern provinces jumped 23 percent from the average price last year, said the ECERB report.

(Xinhua News Agency July 15, 2008)

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