Tue, Aug 27, 2013 - Page 15 News List

China probes top oil official: report

AFP and AP, SHANGHAI and BEIJING

Chinese authorities are investigating a top official of the country’s largest oil and gas producer for “discipline violations,” state media said yesterday, using a term that typically refers to corruption.

The Chinese Communist Party’s graft watchdog was investigating Wang Yongchun (王永春), a vice president of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC, 中國石油天然氣), Xinhua news agency reported.

CNPC is the parent company of PetroChina Ltd (中石油), one of the world’s biggest oil producers by market capitalization.

The Ministry of Supervision’s one-sentence announcement gave no details of the allegations against Wang, beyond saying he was suspected of “severe” violations of party discipline.

Wang is also general manager of the Daqing Oilfield Co (大慶油田), which manages China’s largest oilfield. He is one of five vice presidents of CNPC, according to its Web site.

The announcement came as the trial of disgraced politician Bo Xilai (薄熙來) for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power ended after five days of hearings.

Also this month, the general manager of state-owned phone company China Mobile Ltd’s (中國移動) operations in the populous southern province of Guangdong was detained. A government announcement said he faced an investigation of suspected discipline violations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has made a crackdown on corruption and government waste a feature of his first year in power. He has vowed to target both low- and senior-level officials.

However, critics say a significant effort to reduce corruption would require increased transparency from the ultra-secretive party, as well as a loosening of controls on the media and courts.

Wang, a senior petroleum engineer, became general manager of the Daqing company in 2009 and a CNPC vice president in 2011.

He has more than 30 years experience in the industry, earlier working at another oil field in the northeastern province of Jilin, according to the CNPC Web site.

Wang also served in China’s national legislature, according to Xinhua.

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