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From the Wilderness wishes to bring to the attention of our readers the following three interrelated stories about the energy crisis in China.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

China swelters as energy crisis soars
by Louisa Lim
BBC correspondent in Beijing

China has released new figures showing its crude oil imports soared by nearly 40% in the first five months of the year as the country needs ever more oil to fuel its explosive economic growth.

Meanwhile, China's coal stockpile has plunged to its lowest level in 20 years.

Faced with a power squeeze, it has raised electricity prices by 5% while coming up with other ingenious energy-saving schemes.

Power cuts
Chinese people are preparing for the long, hot summer. Cooling down is getting harder as this year, China's creaky electricity system is under more strain than ever before - with demand up an estimated 15% from the previous year.

The consequences are beginning to impinge on everyday life. For me, the first sign of this was on going home one day, when I noticed there were no lights on at all in my block.

The authorities are well aware of the power crunch - and that China's massive economic growth spurt is needing more electricity than can be supplied. The warning signs are that these power shortages are here to stay, with a spate of reports in the state-run press warning of large scale blackouts.

In Shanghai, the country's commercial hub, factories are being encouraged to shift production to nighttime and weekends to avoid peak time electricity - and even to send their beleaguered workers home if the temperature rises to 35 degrees.

Sweaty future
Meanwhile in the corridors of bureaucracy, someone has apparently decided that air-conditioning is the main culprit responsible for these shortages - reportedly they suck up 40% of electricity consumption in cities. Shanghai is leading the way in the battle against the air-cons. It has set limits as to how cold your air conditioning can be set - for government offices, shops and entertainment venues, 26 degrees is the bottom line.

In Beijing for the moment, a softer approach is being taken - with plans to make hotels set their standard temperature one degree higher at 23 degrees. Our offices are currently allowed to be an oasis of cool, but for how long is still unclear. The signs are that we should prepare for the worst.

Dressing down
Ominous articles in the state-run press say people should stop wearing business suits in summer, so they can turn off their office cooling systems - all fine and good in theory, but somehow I cannot see China's new businessmen doing deals in shorts, vests and flip-flops.

But these are short-term measures and China is facing a long-term shortage - so it is looking to diversify in all senses of the word. Beijing has recently announced plans to generate 10% of its power from renewable sources by 2010. And it is looking further afield for oil supplies - courting oil producers in Africa and central Asia.

The search for alternative energy supplies is beginning to shape China's geopolitical aims - as China's economic and political security is increasingly bound up in its energy security.

But building new alliances and new pipelines takes time and in the meantime, chances are we'll be fiddling with our air conditioners and buying new flip-flops.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/business/3828801.stm
Published: 2004/06/22 12:52:27 GMT
© BBC MMIV

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Beijing 'brown-out' to save power

Beijing has experienced its first "brown out" of the year - a partial power cut to save energy as China grapples with soaring electricity demand.

It came as China's state media announced that the authorities had approved two nuclear power projects in regions particularly hit by shortages.

Thousands of companies in Shanghai have switched to working at night so there is no need to use air conditioning.

State press articles have urged people to stop wearing suits in the summer.

According to China's Xinhua news agency, Beijing's grid switched off power to parts of more than 10 districts and counties of the capital, after three electricity generators in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei broke down on Wednesday.

China hopes that the introduction of two more nuclear power plants will help to meet the country's demand for energy, which has soared as its economy has boomed.

The State Council had given the go-ahead for work to begin at the Lin'ao power plant project in Guangdong province and at the Sanmen project in Zhejiang province, Xinhua said.

"Nuclear power generating is a kind of clean and safe way of power supply, with mature technology and good flexibility," the cabinet was quoted as saying.

China has four nuclear power plants, accounting for less than 2% of the country's total energy supply. It hopes to expand that to make up 4% of the total by 2020.

Energy industry officials warned on Thursday that China is expected to see a 250-million-tonne annual crude oil shortage by 2020.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/3916789.stm
Published: 2004/07/22 13:27:43 GMT
© BBC MMIV

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

[NOTE: Previously FTW has reported that a top-level Chinese delegation visited Venezuela to discuss purchasing all of Venezuela’s exports in the event that President Hugo Chavez suspended oil shipments to the US. Here, the Chinese news agency reveals how closely China is watching US-Venezuelan relations.]

Venezuela may suspend oil shipments to US

www.chinaview.cn
2004-07-22 10:02:07

CARACAS, July 21 (Xinhuanet) -- The Venezuelan government said Wednesday it may suspend oil shipments to the United States in case of an eventual conflict with that country.

"In case of an aggression, that option would be considered," said Energy and Mining Minister Rafael Martinez in an interview released Wednesday through US news-broadcast system in Spanish CNN.

He added the suspension of oil supply is his country's right.

The impasse between Venezuela and the United States began late last February after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused his US counterpart George W. Bush of financing the opposition's plot against his government.

In addition, Chavez believed the United States was behind the coup in 2002, which briefly ousted him from office. Two days later,he returned to the presidency.

Such denunciations have been denied by the United States, the principal purchaser of Venezuelan oil. Venezuela is the world's fifth largest oil exporter.

In the run-up to the Aug. 15 recall referendum, Chavez increased his attacks on Washington, saying Bush, not the Venezuelan opposition, was his true political foe.

According to surveys, the oil-rich country is almost evenly divided between those who would oust Chavez and those who would have him to stay on as president.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


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