Wen stresses energy trade with Riyadh

Por • 17 ene, 2012 • Sección: Política

By Xu Tianran

Global Times | January 16, 2012. Against a backdrop of growing regional tensions over the Iran nuclear issue, Premier Wen Jiabao called for more trade and cooperation in crude oil and natural gas with Saudi Arabia during his state visit there.

”China and Saudi Arabia should keep deepening cooperation in the face of changeable and complicated regional and international trends,” Wen said in Riyadh on Saturday.

”Both sides must strive together to expand trade and cooperation, upstream and downstream, in crude oil and natural gas,” noted Wen, who will also visit the oil and gas producing countries of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

On the same day, the state-run Saudi oil giant Aramco and China’s Sinopec finalized an initial agreement signed last year to develop a 400,000-barrel-per-day refinery.

Under the agreement, Aramco will hold a 62.5 percent stake in the Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Co joint venture, with Sinopec owning the remainder. The refinery project will cost at least $8.5 billion.

As China’s biggest oil supplier, Saudi Arabia shipped nearly 45.5 million tons of crude to China between January and November 2011, up from 44.6 million tons in 2010, according to China’s General Administration of Customs.

Wen’s visit came shortly after Iran, China’s third biggest oil supplier, threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz in response to Western sanctions against its nuclear program.

”If the Strait of Hormuz is blocked, 40 percent of China’s total oil imports will be affected, and the country would face a major energy crisis,” said Han Xiaoping, chief information officer of the China Energy consultancy.

”Wen’s visit shows that China is seeking to reinforce its energy security in the region, but it does not necessarily mean that Beijing no longer regards Iran as a major oil supplier,” Han told the Global Times.

He noted that the Yanbu refinery plant is located on the Red Sea coast and will not be affected by a military conflict in the Strait.

On Wednesday, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner visited Beijing to seek backing for stricter sanctions against Iran’s oil industry.

China did not voice support for US sanctions on Iran, saying its oil trade with Tehran should not be linked to the nuclear issue.

Japan’s Finance Minister Jun Azumi has pledged to cut down on Iranian oil imports, but Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said that was not his own opinion.

On Thursday, the Obama administration invoked US law to sanction Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, which it said was Iran’s largest supplier of refined petroleum products.

China in turn expressed its ”strong dissatisfaction and adamant opposition.”

”Imposing sanctions on a Chinese company based on a domestic law is totally unreasonable, and does not conform to the spirit or content of UN Security Council resolutions about the Iran nuclear issue,” said Liu Weimin, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman.

Agencies contributed to this story


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