China to Boost Energy Profile with U.S.
BEIJING/NEW DELHI -- China next week hosts a wide-ranging summit of U.S. and Asian energy ministers that will boost the energy profile of the world's number-two oil consumer as it seeks greater leverage over crude prices.
The one-day meeting of top energy policy makers from China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States will be held on Dec. 16 in Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
It aims to improve collaboration in the face of high oil costs, but will also discuss regional energy security issues, efficiency and renewable and alternative energy.
"The objective of the meeting is to strengthen dialogue and cooperation of the world's major energy consumers," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news conference.
Beijing until recently played a smaller part in international energy affairs, taking a back seat to more vocal neighbours like India. But after rising oil prices squeezed its refiners and delayed plans to build up a strategic reserve led to domestic discontent, it has become more prominent.
China does not have an energy minister but is expected to be represented by Ma Kai, head of the National Development and Reform Commission which sets energy policy and is hosting the summit, originally scheduled for late October.
U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman will lead the U.S. delegation, giving officials from both sides a rare opportunity to address some of the tensions stirred up by Chinese firm CNOOC Ltd.'s failed bid last year to buy U.S. producer Unocal.
The takeover effort was abandoned in the face of fierce Congressional opposition, but many in China are still resentful of what they see as unjustified political interference.
The Indian delegation will be headed by Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora, accompanied by Petroleum Secretary M.S. Srinivasan and senior officials from companies including top refiner IOC and producer ONGC Videsh.
They will be pushing for greater cooperation between India's oil companies and China's -- an issue which has topped Delhi's agenda for more than a year despite a history of mutual distrust.
India says the two countries' hunt for oil to fuel their booming economies is sparking bidding wars that inflate asset prices unnecessarily.
Japan's Trade Minister Akira Amari and Energy Director Harufumi Mochizuki are expected to promote energy conservation and substitution -- a top priority for Beijing since it unveiled tough efficiency targets in March this year.
South Korean Energy Minister Chung Sye-kyun and Korea National Oil Corp. CEO Hwang Doo-yul will represent Seoul.
(Additional reporting by Jim Bai in Beijing, Angela Moon in Seoul, Ikuko Kao in Tokyo)