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Sea Transport a Way-out of Energy Problem
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The role of ocean shipping of energy supplies was discussed by China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) President Wei Jiafu at a panel discussion on Trends in the International Energy Market Saturday afternoon during the Boao Forum for Asia held on April 21-23 in Boao, a town in south China's Hainan Province.

As energy is a crucial resource for industrial production and is needed daily, its supply plays an important role in regional and world economic growth, Wei said. Without stable and sufficient energy supplies, economic growth couldn't be realized.

However, Wei pointed out, that there was an imbalance of world energy demand and supply with energy consuming nations located at great distances from those supplying it.

He quoted figures to illustrate this.

At the end of 2004, 62 percent of world oil reserves were located in the Middle East with just 5 percent located in North America which consumed the most. Moreover, 3 percent of the world oil reserves were located in the Asian Pacific area where petroleum consumption was around 29 percent.

Therefore, Wei said, a stable energy supply depended not only on timely and sufficient production but also on a complete supply chain in which smooth transportation played an important part.

"Ocean shipping has always been a leader in energy transportation and is most economical and convenient," said Wei, "Owing to a shortage of international oil supplies in the last few years, the issue of energy shipping is getting increasing more attention from international communities."

The energy shipping capacity relies on the expansion of world's maritime fleet, according to Wei.

In the case of oil transportation, Wei said, the gross tonnage of the world oil tanker fleet had grown from 260 million dwt in 1990 to 350 million dwt in 2005 with an increase of nearly 100 million dwt in 15 years. Moreover, along with the further specialization of world industries the number of independent oil tanker carriers was increasing while those controlled by oil traders were reducing gradually.

"This has posed a question on how to stabilize the growth of tanker fleet and safeguard the oil supply while addressing the challenges brought by the fluctuations of oil prices and the tanker freight market," observed Wei.

To solve the problem he believed that cooperation between energy traders and the ship owners of many Asian countries could provide a way forward.

Shipping energy by sea had to be safe, quick and environmentally friendly, said Wei. He pledged that his company would keep strictly to the rules set by the International Maritime Organization.  The company would provide stable energy shipping and promote sustainable economic development for China and the world.

(China.org.cn by Staff Reporter Yuan Fang, April 23, 2006)

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