Russia, China keep talking gas as Chinese president’s visit nears

Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) will continue discussions on a major gas supply deal on Tuesday, the Russian energy giant said on Monday after a second straight day of talks in Moscow.

“The second round of talks between Gazprom and CNPC on gas deliveries to China, which involved [Gazprom CEO] Alexei Miller and [CNPC president] Jiang Jiemin, have finished in Moscow. The talks will continue tomorrow,” Gazprom said in a statement.

A legally binding document on the main terms of delivery was signed on September 27, 2010, during President Dmitry Medvedev’s trip to China, and there is pressure for the final deal on pricing to be agreed in time for Chinese President Hu Jintao’s appearance at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum later this week.

Energy-hungry China is becoming a major consumer of Russian energy, but a recent pricing dispute over oil deliveries shows how high the stakes are.

Russia’s Transneft oil pipeline monopoly and Rosneft oil giant started crude supplies to China via the East Siberia- Pacific Ocean pipeline in January, but soon accused CNPC of underpaying for the oil by unilaterally cutting payments by 7 percent.

After weeks of wrangling the Russian companies said China had acknowledged and repaid most of the $250 million debt. Rosneft said last week that the contract price formula for crude oil supplied to China remains unchanged.

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on Monday at an energy conference in St. Petersburg that the potential for cooperation with China is unique.

Referring to the oil supply contract, he told reporters that “I look forward to a similar deal on gas.”


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