China And Saudi Arabia Sign Bilateral Energy Agreement

China and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to expand energy cooperation Jan. 23 during a visit by Saudi King Abdullah to the world's fastest growing major oil market. The agreement on "cooperation in oil, natural gas and minerals" was signed between Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi and Ma Kai, minister of China's State Development and Reform Commission. It followed a meeting between King Abdullah and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Neither side immediately provided any details on the agreement, but Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal indicated before the signing ceremony it would allow for more specific joint projects in the future.

Energy analysts said the agreement was the first between the two governments on overall cooperation in the field of energy. The two countries had previously signed specific deals in areas such as building oil refineries and drilling.

Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil exporter and China is the second largest oil consumer. China imported more than 20 million tons of oil from Saudi Arabia last year, comprising around 14% of its total oil imports.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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