Thursday, May 14, 2020 8:08 p.m. EDT by Thomson Reuters

By Chen Aizhu and Muyu Xu

SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s top energy producers will grow their natural gas output this year by twice as much as in the previous oil rout even as they slash spending due to collapsing oil prices, company officials and analysts said.

The world’s top energy consumer is forecast to expand its natural gas production by 5% or more in 2020 despite plans for deep spending cuts which will likely curb local oil production, they said.

That would be half the growth in 2019 but double the 2.2% growth seen in 2016 following a lengthy oil slump.

China’s state-owned energy companies are joining others worldwide in slashing expenditure after this year’s

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