China News in brief
China is net coal importer
For the first time in history, coal-rich China became a net coal importer in January, according to China Customs. In that month, China's coal imports increased by 81 per cent to 4.7 million tonnes per month, while its export decreased by 20.4 per cent to 3.3 million tonnes.
The major source of China's coal imports is Indonesia, which supplied 1.16 million tonnes to China in January 2007, a 600 per cent rise over the same period last year. The destination of China's coal imports is mainly its southeast coastal regions where the economy is booming but coal resources are poor. Industry analysts say that the imports are mainly high-quality coals whose domestic supplies are insufficient. The surging imports are also influenced by the long transportation distances from China's northwest coal mines to southeast coal users.
Oil firms look abroad
China's investment watchdog - the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) - has recommended nine countries that Chinese oil and gas firms should invest in: Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Morocco, Libya, Niger, Norway, Ecuador and Bolivia. This is the first time the NDRC has listed western African and South American countries as oil and gas investment destinations.
Han Xuegong, an expert of Beijing-based CNPC Managers Training Institute, said that China's oil-searching efforts are extending beyond the traditional hot areas like the Middle East and north Africa. NDRC statistics show in 2005, China imported 30 million tons oil from Africa, accounting for 30 per cent of its total oil imports. This has enabled China to overtake Japan to become the world's second largest African oil buyer, after the US.
Oil refinery deal signed
The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed an agreement with the Sichuan provincial government on 7 March to build a gigantic refinery with an annual processing capacity of 10 million tonnes, along with an 800,000 tonne ethylene production plant, in the southwestern Chinese province.
With an estimated 38 billion yuan (US$4.9 billion), the two facilities will be located in Pengzhou, near the capital city Chengdu. So far, CNPC has not confirmed whether the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has approved the deal. However, the NDRC has this year already approved a new CNPC refinery in Guangxi, with an investment of 15.2 billion yuan (US$2 billion) and a planned processing capacity of 10 million tonnes.