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CNOOC may ink deal with Qatar on LNG
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China National Offshore Oil Corp, the nation's biggest builder of liquefied natural gas terminals, may sign an accord to purchase the fuel from Qatar by today, President Fu Chengyu said.

"Both parties are making efforts" to complete the agreement, Fu told Bloomberg News in Beijing before his talks with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber al-Thani. Al-Thani and Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, Qatar's oil minister, are on a visit to China this week.

Domestic oil companies led by state-owned China National Offshore, the parent of CNOOC Ltd, are planning more than 10 LNG terminals along the eastern coast to meet a government target of doubling the use of the cleaner-burning fuel by 2010. China, the world's second-biggest energy user, needs supplies to supplement a 25-year contract with Australia, Bloomberg News said.

China National Offshore will pay Qatar "market prices," Fu said, without giving a volume of the potential purchase.

A shortage of supplies in Asia has more than doubled benchmark prices over the past five years. China paid US$9.25 per million British thermal units for an individual cargo from Algeria in October, a record for China, according to customs data. It pays Australia US$3.14 per million British thermal units for 3.3 million metric tons a year of LNG.

Jiang Jiemin, chairman of the nation's biggest oil company PetroChina Co, held separate talks with Qatari officials after Fu concluded discussions with al-Thani in the same hotel yesterday.

"We will make relevant announcements when we are supposed to," Jiang said, without providing any details.

China and Qatar are to host a signing ceremony in Beijing today, according to an agenda provided by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The nations signed an initial deal to expand energy cooperation, Xinhua news agency said last month.

(Shanghai Daily April 10, 2008)

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