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Demand for Clean Energy Calls for Closer Cooperation

The surging demand for natural gas in Asia calls for better cooperation and integration of ASEAN members and China, the Republic of Korea and Japan, officials attending the First ASEAN+3 Natural Gas Forum said yesterday. 

"We have big producers as well as big consumers in this region. Both sides should enhance the prosperity of natural gas business in the region," said an official from Indonesia.


China, the world's second biggest energy user, is promoting the use of natural gas to improve the air quality and people's living conditions. The country is eager to enhance cooperation on natural gas with neighboring ASEAN countries, said Xu Dingming, director-general of the Energy Bureau under National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC).


With a reserve of 3.5 trillion cubic meters, or 2.25 percent of world's reserves, China is engaged in a handful of giant pipeline projects.


Meanwhile, the country is also exploring another estimated 54 trillion cubic meters in natural deposits.


According to Wang Jing, an official with Energy Bureau of NDRC, a total of 142.4 billion yuan (US$17.3 billion) will be invested in East China Sea to build 10 natural gas platforms.


Meanwhile, she added, China also needs to import both liquefied natural gas (LNG) and pipeline gas and "compete on the global market."


Zhang Xin, director-general of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the parent company of PetroChina, who also served as chair of the forum, said his company hoped to seek cooperation opportunities through such a meeting.


"Such a forum provides a good platform for us to learn about other ASEAN members, laying ground for future cooperation," he said.


Guillermo Balce, executive director of ASEAN Center For Energy, said China, especially its coastal area, is a strategic demand centre for natural gas producing countries in ASEAN, including Indonesia and Malaysia.


As these countries are closer to China, he believed they will be a good resource of natural gas for China in terms of expense and security.


"ASEAN countries are happy about China's progress," he said. "China is moving on the right direction by taking a substantial role in developing natural gas in the region."


In addition to long-term supply contracts, he said ASEAN+3 countries should also share technology to improve the efficiency of natural gas to better promote its utilization.


CNPC, China's largest oil firm, has invested in Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar to prospect and develop natural gas and oil.


"Our policy is to diversify our source of natural gas. We are looking at ASEAN, as well Middle East and Russia," he added.


China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), China's third-largest oil and gas company, is building China's first two LNG projects in South China's Guangdong and Fujian provinces, using LNG imported from Australia and Indonesia.


Shanghai, Zhejiang and Shandong provinces are also planning their own LNG projects.


(China Daily March 30, 2004)

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