Japan and China to jointly develop contested gas fields

Apr 22, 2005 02:00 AM

Japan will agree to a Chinese proposal to jointly develop natural gas fields in the East China Sea, one of the most intense disputes in the tensions between the two countries.
Tokyo will agree to the Chinese proposal on the condition that the development by the two major energy-importing nations cover the entire East China Sea, according to government sources.

Japan will confirm its stance during expected talks between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of an Asia-Africa summit meeting in Indonesia. If the two leaders agree on the issue, the joint development will be taken up for discussion at the Japan-China working-level talks on natural gas fields scheduled for May.
A Japanese foreign ministry official in charge of Chinese affairs denied the report, saying "We have not changed our stance."
"We have been asking China to stop drilling and release data on the gasfields," he told.

Japan and China, two of the world's biggest energy importers, have seen relations persistently deteriorate over a range of issues, with the Chinese public staging sometimes violent rallies against Japan this month.
Japan on April 13 said it would let Japanese companies drill in the disputed gas fields, ending decades of hesitation about upsetting China. China proposed joint development of the gas fields last June. In 2003, China began drilling unilaterally, infuriating Japan, which had called for a clear delineation between the two sides.

Japan accuses China of extracting gas from its side of the fields, which a 1999 Japanese survey estimated had a massive 200 bn cm (7 tcf) of gas.
"There won't be any progress as long as both sides stick to their guns. In order to get China to concede, our side also needs to face squarely the issue of joint development," a senior Japanese foreign ministry official was quoted as saying.

Source: PetroEnergy Information Network
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