Towngas and rivals bag projects worth 815 million yuan across the mainland Three Hong Kong-based gas suppliers are taking advantage of China's liberalisation of its fledgling gas sector, snapping up projects worth a total 815 million yuan. Making the strongest push is blue-chip utility Hong Kong and China Gas (Towngas), which will expand into both upstream and downstream gas supplies in Anhui province through three projects involving a total investment of 455 million yuan. Smaller players Panva Gas Holdings and China Gas Holdings are targeting downstream gas supplies in the north. Panva will venture into Liaoning province through a 300 million yuan project in Benxi, while China Gas has Beijing in its sights with a 60 million yuan joint venture. In recent years, China has been seeking to promote the use of environmentally friendly fuel and boost consumption of natural gas sourced from its landmark project - the 3,800km east-west gas pipeline between Xinjiang and Shanghai. Towngas yesterday signed a 245 million yuan joint-venture agreement with state-owned firms Anhui Energy Corp and Anhui Guofeng Corp, which would sell natural gas wholesale to 11 cities in Anhui province, executive director Ronald Chan Tat-hung said. The joint venture, 25 per cent owned by Towngas, will distribute natural gas sourced from the east-west gas pipeline. Mr Chan said the upstream gas investment would safeguard supply to its downstream projects. The company would sign a framework agreement today to supply natural gas to end-users in Anqing, also in Anhui province, for a total investment of 210 million yuan. Towngas will hold a 50 per cent stake in the project. It had also signed a letter of intent to form a downstream gas project in Huaibei, Anhui. Panva Gas has signed a framework agreement with state-owned Benxi Public Utility for a 300 million yuan piped-gas project in Benxi, Liaoning province. The agreement would lead to a joint venture in which Panva would own 52.2 per cent, the company said. With a 30-year franchise, the joint venture would design, develop and maintain piped-gas services in Benxi as well as enable Benxi Public Utility's existing pipeline networks to carry natural gas. Meanwhile, China Gas Holdings said it would invest 30 million yuan in a 60 million yuan joint venture to supply natural gas to six districts in Beijing. The venture will be owned 50 per cent each by the company and state enterprise Beijing Gas.