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Tue, Sep 28, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Russia hopes to fill China’s gas tank


China and Russia signed agreements yesterday to boost energy cooperation, while Moscow said it is ready to supply its energy hungry neighbor with all its natural gas needs.

No dollar value was given to the agreements signed during a state visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, but they include documents on cooperation in coal, natural gas, nuclear energy and renewable energy.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin told reporters in Beijing that Russia is in talks with Chinese partners on plans to launch natural gas supplies to China starting in 2015, according to the state ITAR-Tass news agency.

“Russia is ready to meet China’s full demand in gas,” Sechin was quoted as saying in the report.

Russia is the world’s biggest energy producer and China is the world’s largest energy consumer, overtaking the US last year.

Although Europe remains Russia’s largest export market for gas and oil, both Beijing and Moscow have been seeking to diversify their energy sources and markets.

Energy supplies account for the bulk of Sino-Russian trade but Moscow also wants to secure Beijing’s help in modernizing the Russian economy and is seeking broader Chinese investments and know-how in various sectors.

Sechin is part of a delegation accompanying Medvedev on a three-day visit that started Sunday. Medvedev met Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) for talks yesterday and praised closer ties with China.

“I believe that the contact between the two countries is completely in the interest of the Russian and Chinese peoples,” Medvedev said in opening remarks.

He said the documents would give a “new impetus” to the Sino-Russian relationship.

For his part, Hu hailed a “new era” in partnership.

“Both sides believe that the current strategic partnership between China and Russia stands at a new starting point,” he said at the end of talks.

The deal reached last year — which will see China receive oil for 20 years in exchange for US$25 billion in loans — is a “milestone” for energy cooperation between the two neighbors, Hu said.

Sechin said that if talks with China on gas supplies went well, Russia could sign commercial contracts by the middle of next year, ITAR-Tass said.

Russian news agency Interfax cited Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko as saying that “in my opinion, the main terms of [gas] supplies, apart from the price, have been agreed upon.”

Late last month, Russia opened its section of a 1,000km crude oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to China, which will connect Russian oil fields with Daqing, a major oil production base in northeastern China.

Trade between Russia and China totaled US$25.5 billion in the first six months of this year, according to official data.

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