China’s central government officials have ordered state-owned energy companies to secure supplies for winter at all costs. 

Vice-Premier Han Zheng, who supervises China’s energy sector and industrial production, has warned companies that blackouts will not be tolerated, reports say. 

China is already grappling with shortages, and prices have more than doubled this year amid soaring electricity demand from factories.

A severe energy crisis is gripping the country, with several regions having to trim power to the industrial sector, while residential areas face blackouts.

Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB, says volatility in energy markets is poised to intensify.

“We are in no way on a verge of a cool-off. Rather it looks like it is going to get even more crazy,” he said. 

“They will bid whatever it takes to win a bidding war for a cargo of coal” or liquefied natural gas.

China’s latest move “brings security of supply back on the forefront”, according to Leslie Palti-Guzman, president of New York-based consultancy Gas Vista.

“This is bad news for European governments and consumers who will deal with elevated gas and electricity prices for the rest of the winter”, she said, as the companies attempt to compete with China for supply.