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Oil firms urged to boost output
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Energy production should be boosted and oil and gas exploration should be increased to guarantee adequate supplies and national energy security, Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan said Sunday.


He made the remarks after hearing annual reports from China's major oil and electricity producers, including PetroChina, Sinopec, Huaneng Group and Guangdong Nuclear Power Group.


The petroleum and petrochemical industries must "bear the overall situation in mind and enhance the awareness of their responsibilities", he said.


"These industries should raise output and make arrangement for transportation in order to ensure stable supplies of oil products. Oil and gas exploration should also be increased," Zeng said.


China raised fuel prices by about 10 percent in November amid shortages after major refiners allegedly withheld supplies due to low government-set prices.


The government ordered earlier this month prices of refined oil, natural gas and electricity should not be adjusted "in the near future". The move was taken to lighten inflationary pressure over common people ahead of the upcoming Spring Festival.


Inflation in China soared above the three-percent official target to 6.9 percent in November, an 11-year high.


"Oil and gas, petrochemical and power industries are the basic sectors and lifeline of the national economy and bear upon the economic and social stability," Zeng said.


He added the government should strengthen supervision of the electricity market and make efforts to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector.


"Power supplies must be ensured and the power sector must develop in an efficient, clean and safe manner. Small, inefficient coal-fired power stations will be restricted, hydropower projects will be developed and construction of nuclear power plants will be promoted," the vice premier said.


(Xinhua News Agency January 21, 2008)


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