PetroChina, the nation's largest oil and natural gas producer, aims to raise its gas output by 25 per cent next year to meet soaring demand. The Hong Kong and United States-listed company has set a new target of producing 50 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas next year, according to a report by China Oil News, a mouthpiece of parent China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), citing a development planning meeting held last week in Xian. This compares with a 40 bcm target announced in March. Marketable gas output has surged 28.4 per cent in the first nine months of this year to 28.52 bcm, compared with a year earlier. 'As a large number of gas fields come on stream, PetroChina will spare no effort in production management, new capacity construction and early-stage resource assessment to ensure rapid output growth,' the report said. Yan Shixin, senior expert of PetroChina's exploration and production division, said earlier this month the company planned to double its gas output to 65.8 billion bcm in 2010 from last year, at an annual growth of 15 per cent. PetroChina last year accounted for 72 per cent of China's gas output and 74 per cent of proved gas reserves, according to Mr Yan. Since the company's 3,800 km west-to-east gas pipeline started delivering gas late in 2003, China's gas demand has been rising faster than expectations, resulting in some chemical and power producers only getting a fraction of the supply they were promised under long-term contracts. Analysts blamed the government for setting unreasonably low prices that failed to recognise the superior environmental-friendliness of natural gas and its scarcity in China. Last December, the central government raised plant-level gas prices for the first time in eight years and said there were would be gradual rises in the future. With only 1 per cent of the world's total proved gas reserves, China is projected to need to import half of its demand via pipeline and tankers by 2020. China started to import natural gas in the middle of this year. CNPC-controlled Beijing Huayou Property Development is in negotiations with Shanghai Lujiazui Group, parent of Shanghai-listed property developer Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone Development, to buy a land lot in Shanghai's new financial district Liujiazui, the Shanghai Securities News reported.