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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 12:17 GMT
China's Hu woos oil-rich Gabon
Oil refinery
China's demand for oil imports is growing
Chinese President Hu Jintao has arrived in Gabon, reportedly to secure oil imports from the central African state.

Ahead of the visit, the French oil company Total Gabon and China's Unipec agreed for Gabonese crude oil to be sold to China for the first time.

Gabonese officials say further accords will be signed on Monday after a meeting between the two leaders.

China is importing increasing amounts of crude oil in order to support its rapid economic growth.

It recently surpassed Japan to become the world's second-largest importer of crude oil after the United States, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

Longstanding ties

The Gabon agreement is valid for a year but can be renewed.

Total Gabon director general Jaques Marraud des Grottes said deal was for "significant" quantities, though he declined to give details.

Unipec is a subsidiary of Sinopec, China's second-largest oil company.

Oil exports make up half of Gabon's annual state revenues.

The country's co-operation with Beijing dates back to 1974 when the long-serving Gabonese President Omar Bongo visited China to meet with the then Communist leader Mao Zedong.

President Hu is on a four-nation foreign tour which began in France before moving on to Africa, where his schedule includes stops in Egypt and Algeria.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Gabon
10 Oct 03  |  Country profiles
Australian hunt for African oil
05 Sep 03  |  Business
US eyes African oil
09 Oct 02  |  Africa



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