China energy chief: crisis chance to up reserves
AP - Wednesday, December 31
SHANGHAI, China - Falling demand for energy shows China's deepening exposure to the global economic crisis, but it also offers an opportunity to build national reserves and cut waste, the country's energy chief said.
China's electricity consumption fell 8.6 percent from a year earlier in November and 3.7 percent from the same month the year before in October _ its first such decline since 1999, Zhang Guobao, who heads the government's Energy Bureau, said in an article on the Web site of the communist party newspaper People's Daily.
"The mounting impact on our domestic economy from the global financial crisis and economic trends is clearly evident," Zhang was quoted as saying.
In recent years, China has sought to diversify and expand its access to energy resources to help meet soaring demand. Those efforts have continued, with a number of major deals signed in recent months.
At the same time, the reduced pressure on supplies, and lower prices thanks to slower demand means the country has the chance to adjust energy prices and technology, and to build up its strategic reserves, Zhang said.
He said China would press ahead with the second phase of construction of its national strategic oil reserves and also encourage companies to build up their commercial reserves.
Oil prices hovered above $40 a barrel Tuesday in Asia on investor concerns the conflict between Israel and Hamas could further heighten tensions in the oil-rich Middle East. But they have fallen more than 70 percent since peaking at $147.27 a barrel on July 11.
China's first phase of national oil reserves was built along the country's eastern and northern coast, at Dalian, Zhenhai, Zhoushan and Qingdao. Those reserves have a total capacity of 16.2 million cubic meters.
Planning for the second phase of reserves, with a capacity of 26.8 million cubic meters, has already been completed, the state-run newspaper China Economic Times said on Monday.
Those reserves will likely be located at Caofeidian, a new steelmaking and energy base in northeastern China's Hebei province, near Beijing, and at Wanxian, in central China's Sichuan province, the report cited a senior Energy Bureau official as saying.
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