According to the China Special Report of the World Energy Outlook 2017, the country's annual gas production will double to 340 billion cubic metres in 2040, with shale gas playing an important role, but consumption is expected to increase even more, reaching 600 billion cubic meters.

Furthermore, until 2040, China will be involved in almost one-quarter of the world's long distance natural gas trade, Xinhua news agency reported.

The increase of the natural gas use is triggered by the Chinese government's attempt to promote it as cleaner alternative. However, energy demand is not growing as fast as it did during the early 2000s, the report added.

From the beginning of the year, until August, Chine used 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas, of which almost 38% was imported, National Development and Reform Commission informed.

During the same period, gas output saw a rise of 10.8%, while consumption rose by 17.8%, fueled by the coal-to-gas switch campaign that gives incentives to residents to use clean energy for household heating.

The IEA report also predicted that the share of natural gas will double to 12% by 2040, in contrast to that of coal, which will drop to 45%.

Coal in power generation will also decrease from about two-thirds in 2016 to less than 40% by 2040, the report concludes.