[BEIJING] A new trading platform for oil and gas was launched in China on Wednesday, state media reported, as the world's largest energy consumer looks to extend its influence over global commodity pricing.
The Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange (SHPGX), which is registered in the Shanghai free trade zone, will initially only handle natural gas transactions during a test run.
"We expect (gas) trading volumes at SHPGX would range from 5 billion cubic meters to 6 billion cubic meters in second half of 2015 and annual trading volumes at SHPGX would be more than 10 billion cubic meters in 2016," Guo Xu, an official with SHPGX, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency, which is a shareholder in the exchange.
There were no forecasts published for oil trading.
Other shareholders include China's big three state-owned oil companies - PetroChina, Sinopec Corp and CNOOC Ltd.
Separately, the Shanghai Futures Exchange has been trying to set up China's first crude oil futures contract, which qualified foreign investors would be allowed to trade.
Last week, China's securities regulator said it expected to complete preparatory work for the contract in about three months.
China's natural gas output fell 2 per cent in May from a year earlier, while demand growth has slumped. Regulators have been trying to introduce more market-oriented elements into gas pricing, which is pegged to crude oil benchmarks.
In February, the government merged two-tier gas pricing and sources have said Beijing may move to cut city-gate, or wholesale, gas prices again soon.