International input for energy law

By Wang Yu (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-03 07:32

International input by leading experts will be considered in the drafting of China's first energy law, industry executives told China Daily on Friday.

According to Wu Zhonghu, a drafter, the draft law is expected to be submitted to the State Council later this year, following an international conference scheduled for next month.

Zhou Feng'ao, another member of the law drafting team, noted that China's energy industry had its own particular features, but that made it all the more imperative for drafters to learn about the experiences of other countries.

He Yongjian, director of the strategy and planning department under the Office of National Energy Leading Group, said the law, the first of its kind in China, will be the overarching one for the country's energy industry and trade.

It will include matters dealing with energy planning, exploration, supply and service, utility and conservation, environmental protection, rural energy, reserves and technology innovation in exploration, He said.

At an industry symposium in Beijing yesterday, William E. Loveless, a US energy policy expert with Platts, an energy information provider, said that according to the US experience, the making of an energy law is "an extremely demanding job", since it involves compromises among different interest groups and industrial segments. It took the US four years to enact it.

He Yongnian admitted that Chinese drafters had already encountered a few obstacles.

One of them is how to override the existing four laws on coal, electricity, energy conservation and renewable energy without replacing them. There are no laws yet governing petroleum, natural gas and nuclear energy.

Another is whether to have a unified national energy administration and how it should function once established.

The reform of the energy markets and their administration was also a challenge in trying to avoid too much or too little regulation, He said.

"If we write some energy-saving targets into the law, what will we do if market players fall short of those targets? If no action is taken, will not the law's authority be put into question?" He said.

Loveless said that from the US experience too much regulation from the government restricts the flexibility of the energy market.

He Yongnian said issues such as the varied interests of industries and regions had also to be taken into account.

China set up a team of experts from 15 ministry-level agencies to draft the country's energy law early last year.

(China Daily 03/03/2007 page1)

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