China to host US, Asia energy meeting
Updated: 2006-09-19 17:09

Seoul - China will host a meeting of top US and Asian energy officials next month, South Korea's energy ministry said on Tuesday, as Beijing steps up efforts to co-ordinate consumer nation policy and rein in oil prices.

"The purpose of the meeting is to discuss ways to stabilize the energy price among high energy consuming countries," said Toh Kyung-hwan, policy director at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy in Seoul.

Government officials from China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States will attend the October 23-26 meeting in Beijing, one of the biggest energy summits arranged by China.

Participants are likely to be minister-level officials, although the list is yet to be confirmed, Toh added.

An official at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) could not say who would attend from the Japanese side, saying arrangements were still being made.

China is not part of the 26-member International Energy Agency (IEA), the industrialized world's oil watchdog, which manages 1.5 billion barrels in government-held oil reserves.

But as an emerging power in Asia, China is setting up its own strategic crude oil facilities.

Bigger Influence

As China's double-digit economic growth forces it to import more resources from abroad, Beijing has been keen to see its state-owned companies taking a more active global role to help it influence markets such as benchmark Oman crude and iron ore.

The government has also taken measures at home to curb oil demand and promote conservation, although critics say its unwillingness to raise energy prices in line with global markets hinders this drive toward greater efficiency.

The United States is the world's biggest oil user, consuming about 20 million barrels per day (bpd), slightly more than Asia's four biggest economies combined.

The participants are likely to release a statement at the end of the meeting vowing to co-operate toward stabilizing the energy market in the region, said Toh.

The consuming nations are united in their concern that sustained high energy prices will harm their economies, but the Asian states may differ on ways to resolve the issue of high energy costs and often vie for resources.