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OPEC to strengthen China collaboration
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Oil exporting countries have expressed strong interest in trade and exploration with China even as they voiced concern that rising prices could weaken demand from the fast-paced economy.


Nigerian Energy Minister Odein Ajumogobia said his country plans to invest US$5 billion next year for energy development and production, with US$4 billion of that amount open to third-party investors.


"China and Nigeria can deepen cooperation as huge business opportunities exist," Ajumogobia told China Daily over the weekend at the Third OPEC Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer and largest source of imports for China.


Along with China's state-owned enterprises, the minister encouraged private enterprises to set up joint ventures with Nigerian businesses.


He said Chinese enterprises are good at oil exploration technology and infrastructure construction, adding that his country is also seeking partnerships with countries such as India and South Korea.


Imports from Africa currently account for more than 30 percent of China's imported oil. With coal being the major source of energy, less than 30 percent of the energy demand is met by oil.


Ajumogobia said current high oil prices, which jumped to nearly US$100 a barrel this month, were the result of a number of factors such as refinery constraints, the mortgage market turmoil in the US and the weak dollar.


"In the long run, the high prices might suppress demand it is OPEC's core function to maintain the equilibrium between supply and demand," the minister said.


Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil, agreed: "We have seen slackening of demand in the US and China." But he said he believes oil prices would remain at current levels until the end of the first quarter next year and were unlikely to go over US$100 a barrel.


OPEC holds that China is not the driving force behind current high prices despite the fact that it forecasts Chinese and Indian demand to contribute significantly to the 40 percent demand growth by 2030.


(China Daily November 19, 2007)

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