Page last updated at 07:39 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 08:39 UK

PetroChina in huge Australia deal

Petrochina worker
PetroChina's deal is the latest to meet China's growing energy needs

PetroChina, Asia's largest oil company, has signed a $41bn (£25bn) deal to purchase gas from a field off Australia's north-western coast.

The pact is the largest trade deal in Australian history and was hailed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

"This agreement provides the basis for the creation of thousands of jobs and also injecting billions of dollars into our economy," he said.

The 20-year deal comes despite recent tensions between Australia and China.

'We need China'

Last week, four employees of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto were formally arrested in China on suspicion of stealing Chinese trade secrets and taking bribes. Stern Hu, head of Rio's iron ore operation, was later charged with commercial spying.

Rio had pulled out of a deal that would have seen it receive a $19.5bn investment from China's Chinalco.

A diplomatic row has also broken out over a visit to Australia by exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, whom Beijing accused of inciting the recent riots between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang province.

"China needs us, we need China," Trade Minister Simon Crean said after the PetroChina deal.

The Chinese company has agreed to buy 2.25 million tons per year of liquefied natural gas from the yet-to-be developed Gorgon gas field, from the share owned by US oil and gas giant ExxonMobil.

Mr Rudd said the deal would create up to 6,000 jobs.

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