There should be a separate law devoted to the protection and development of oil resources in order to safeguard energy resources and economic security, suggested NPC deputies at the ongoing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Thursday.
Set uneasy by big fluctuations of oil prices on the world market and the alarming growth of oil demand at home, the lawmakers complained about failure to stress the strategic importance of oil resources as all oil-related stipulations are scattered in different laws and regulations and there is not an independent law devoted specially to oil resources.
China's domestic crude oil consumption totaled 252.31 million tons in 2003, a 10.15 percent year-on-year growth. Crude oil imports reached 91.1263 million tons, up 31.29 percent from 2002. It is predicted that China's oil demand may surge to 300 million tons by 2010, half of which has to be met by imports.
The oil supply is already strained, said Director Wu Kunhua of the Wuhan Petrochemical Plant under the banner of Sinopec. Then there is disorderly oil extraction in some places and oil stealing is also serious. China is in urgent need of an independent law on the protection and development of both onshore and offshore oil resources.
"Oil industry is China's economic lifeline on which the sustainable development strategy hinges. That, too, calls for the enactment of a law," said deputy Zhang Zhixin during an interview with Xinhua, adding that the proposal has won extensive support from his fellow deputies.
The lawmakers have also deemed the establishment of strategic oil reserves as something that "brooks no delay".
Due to lack of strategic oil reserves, the price of oil in China lacks elasticity, according to experts. It is estimated that for every one dollar rise in the international oil price, China has to spend 5 dollars more on very barrel of oil imported.
The lawmakers also suggested to codify the "oil conservation" slogan so as to punish those who squander oil.
The lawmakers warned against excessive consumption of oil in developing the economy. "Otherwise, the whole world would point their fingers at us," he said.
All the lawmakers expressed their approval when Premier Wen Jiabao said in his government work report to the ongoing NPC session that the "conservation of oil and other major resources" is "something that is urgently needed in resolving the supply and demand conflicts" and is "a long-term strategy to ease the pressure on resources and the environment."
(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2004)