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Big Energy Consumers Pledge to Cooperate
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China, hosting its first major energy summit over the weekend, urged top oil consumers to unite in the face of fluctuating global oil prices and maintain energy security.


China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and India, which together use almost half of the world's energy, agreed in a joint statement to strengthen cooperation in seeking energy alternatives, energy conservation and the sharing of information.


The five consumer nations will also focus on diversifying energy sources, increase efficiency to reduce oil dependency, cooperate on strategic oil reserves, and encourage more investment in the industry to ensure sufficient supply.


"We are trying to convey a rational and active signal to the world that its major oil consumers will strengthen cooperation in energy savings, increase efficiency, and seek oil alternatives," said Ma Kai, Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).


Proposed by China, the first-ever meeting of energy ministers from the world's leading oil consuming nations comes at a time of fluctuating prices and growing demand.


Last year, the five countries consumed 45.2 per cent of the world's oil production, Ma said.


He said the five have shared interests and are confronted with common problems.


The energy chiefs also called on all countries to build energy markets that are open, transparent, efficient and competitive.


Already the world's second-largest oil consumer and second-largest oil importer, China's demand is forecast to more than double by 2025.


Ma said the country would stick to its energy policy to put coal at the core and try to diversify its structure with oil, gas and new resources.


Coal still accounts for 70 per cent of the country's energy consumption and Ma said the country plans to enhance its renewable resources from 7 per cent to 16 per cent by 2020.


Chen Shouhai, professor from the China University of Petroleum, said the summit reflected "an inevitable trend of cooperation between oil consumers."


"Rather than seeking an alliance to confront the world's major oil producers, the summit focused on cooperation in conservation, technology, and development of new resources to reduce their reliance on oil," Chen said.


The five countries hoped the dialogue would become a regular event, and Japan has already offered to host the next round, Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Murli Deora, told Reuters.


(China Daily December 18, 2006)


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