- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China's
global quest for crude oil is acceptable as long as the Asian nation develops
the deposits and doesn't hoard them, a senior State Department official
said on Tuesday.
- China, the world's second-biggest oil user behind the
United States, has recently scoured the globe for oil deals in Canada,
Latin America and Africa.
- Rapid Chinese oil demand growth was one of the factors
that pushed U.S. crude oil futures above $55 a barrel.
- "China's energy needs are going to be enormous in
the future," said Christopher Hill, the State Department's assistant
secretary for East Asia and the Pacific.
- "The question is, are they looking to develop energy
or are they looking to take it off the market," Hill told a Senate
Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing on China's growing economic might.
- China consumes more than 7 million barrels per day of
crude oil, versus U.S. consumption of about 20 million bpd.
- State-run Chinese companies have spent billions of dollars
on oil assets overseas to boost supplies for a country that imports 40
percent of its energy needs.
- In written testimony, Hill voiced concern about China's
willingness to deal with nations frowned upon by the United States, including
Iran and Sudan.
- "The biggest impact on U.S. national interests is
China's willingness to invest in and trade with problem states" such
as Iran, Sudan and Burma, Hill said in written testimony.
- "We are concerned that China's need for energy and
other resources could make China an obstacle to U.S. and international
efforts to enforce norms of acceptable behavior," Hill said.
- China has undermined U.S. efforts to pursue sanctions
against Iran's nuclear program in the U.N. Security Council, said Mikkal
Herberg at the National Bureau of Asian Research. China has similarly blocked
U.N. efforts to sanction Sudan for Darfur human rights violations, Herberg
- A unit of China's state-run Sinopec Group said earlier
this year it plans to drill for oil and gas in Iran, Cuba and central Asia
in 2005. It also signed a production-sharing contract with Cuba's state
oil firm Cupec in January.
- Sinopec and two other oil giants, China National Petroleum
Corp. and PetroChina, have spent more than $5 billion in oil and gas fields
from Australia to Indonesia and Sudan to Saudi Arabia in recent years.
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who chairs the East Asian
and Pacific Affairs subcommittee, said the United States faces growing
competition from China in Canada, which is the biggest U.S. oil exporter.
- Canadian and Chinese firms are cooperating to build a
$2 billion pipeline to ship crude from Canada's vast oil sands in Alberta
to the West Coast to be sent via tanker to China.
- "China has brought the competition for natural resources
to our backyard," Murkowski said.
- Separately, the Energy Information Administration forecast
that China's oil demand would grow by 600,000 barrels per day in 2005 from
last year. For all of 2005, China will consume an estimated 7.2 million
barrels per day, with demand rising to 7.8 million bpd in 2006, the EIA