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China creates office to safeguard energy
Updated: 2005-04-28 16:24

China has created a powerful new agency to oversee the country's energy security amid booming demand for power and surging oil imports, a newspaper reported.

The State Energy Office will supervise China's state-owned oil companies and a newly created strategic petroleum reserve, The Asian Wall Street Journal said Thursday. It cited an unidentified official of the Chinese Cabinet's State Development and Reform Commission.

The Chinese government is alarmed at the country's growing dependence on imported oil to fuel its surging economy, whose annual growth has topped 9 percent in recent years.

The State Energy Office will report directly to the State Council, giving it greater influence than other regulatory agencies, the Journal said.

It said the office would be led by Ma Kai, who also heads the development and reform commission, which oversees China's economic reforms.

The office's mandate could extend to securing foreign gas and oil, managing domestic coal supplies, resolving chronic electricity shortages and forcing factories to raise efficiency and cut pollution, the report said.

According to the Journal, Ma's deputies at the new agency will include Ma Fucai, who resigned as general manager of China's biggest oil company, China National Petroleum Corp, after a gas field accident in 2003 killed 243 people.

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