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China's energy prices 'close to international levels'
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Whether the price of refined oil will be adjusted after the Olympics depends on the state of the national economy and the energy situation at home and abroad, according to Zhang Guobao, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission and director general of the National Energy Administration.

Zhang said the long-term trend is for China's domestic energy prices to move closer to international levels, but it is not yet known whether the price of refined oil will be raised after the Olympics. At present the domestic price of oil is lower than the international price. Steps will be taken according to the situation in the country.

Zhang said the current national power crisis is due to tight coal supply rather than a shortage of installed electricity generation capacity. Over the past few years, heavy industries such as iron and steel have increased their demand for coal, reducing the amount of coal available for power generation. The domestic coal price, which is determined by market forces, has risen quickly as a consequence.

Zhang also noted that the price of electricity for residential use was left unchanged when prices for most industrial uses were raised on June 19. Given rapidly increasing coal prices, some power plants are facing a profits squeeze and some districts suffer a power shortage. "The State Council is taking this matter very seriously." Zhang Guobao said. "A team has been set up to coordinate the transportation of coal, power and oil. We are also taking measures to increase the coal production and supply."

(China.org.cn by Wang Wei, August 19, 2008)

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