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China, US to cooperate on use of oil reserves
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China and the United States, two of the world's largest consumers of oil, have agreed to cooperate on the use of their strategic petroleum reserves on Thursday.

"The U.S. and China agreed to strengthen cooperation on construction and management of strategic oil stocks," said the statement from the U.S. at the conclusion of the third China-U.S. Strategic Economic Dialogue in Beijing.

"Coordinated use of strategic petroleum reserves increases energy security for net oil-importing countries during times of significant supply disruption," the statement said.

Imports accounted for 66 percent of U.S. domestic petroleum use last year. The figure for China, which became a net importer of oil during the 1990s as its economy took off, was 47 percent.

The announcement came as world crude prices remained near recent highs. U.S. crude-oil futures surged to 94 U.S. dollars per barrel on Wednesday in New York, the highest level in about two weeks, after news of a fall in U.S. crude oil inventories.

The U.S. strategic petroleum reserve currently holds about 6.93 million barrels of crude oil.

China's strategic oil reserve stood at two to three million tons, and would be expanded to about 12 million tons by 2010, said then Vice Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission Chen Deming in September.

China started construction of four strategic oil reserve bases with a combined capacity of 14 million tons along coastal regions in 2003. It began filling three of them last year, and is expected to start filling the fourth in Dalian, northeast China, at the end of this year.

The two countries also agreed to join in addressing challenges of environmental sustainability and climate change, and vowed to boost cooperation over a ten-year period, according to the U.S. statement.

The U.S. would provide technical assistance to China's nationwide program of sulfur dioxide emission trading in the power sector, as well as help China develop low sulfur fuels for vehicles, in a bid to cut sulfur dioxide emissions for the benefit of the global environment.

Both sides agreed to "reduce or eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services" in face of environmental challenges, and said they would meet in early 2008 to discuss the issue.

In order to enhance energy sufficiency and lower both countries' carbon emissions, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in development of biofuels.

Minister of China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Ma Kai has called for stronger cooperation of the two countries in joint energy development, especially in improving coal efficiency and promoting clean energy, ahead of the key dialogue.

(Xinhua News Agency December 14, 2007)

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