China is hosting this week foreign ministers from major oil producers and exporters in the Middle East to discuss boosting energy ties and a possible free trade agreement, while Beijing is concerned with the unrest in central Asian oil producer Kazakhstan.
More than 160 people were killed in Kazakhstan in one week of unrest during protests that affected production at the country’s largest oilfield, Tengiz, operated by Chevron.
The U.S. supermajor said on Sunday that production at the oilfield was gradually being restored to its usual volumes, following several days of curtailed output amid logistics disruptions due to contractors supporting the protests.
Tengizchevroil, the joint venture pumping oil at Tengiz, produces around 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) out of Kazakhstan’s total crude oil production of some 1.6 million bpd.
As Kazakhstan was plunged into protests, with a shoot-to-kill order from President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the unrest raised concerns over the energy security of China, which has invested in Kazakhstan’s energy industry.
So China is hosting this week the foreign ministers of the world’s largest oil exporter Saudi Arabia, as well as the foreign ministers of Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain, and the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf, The Arab Weekly reports.
The Gulf countries and China will be seeking to progress negotiations over a free trade agreement (FTA) and cooperation in areas including energy.
“The visit is vitally important, and it may lead to positive results for a China-GCC FTA, after negotiations started in 2004,” Li Shaoxian, director of the China Institute for Arab Studies at Ningxia University, told the Global Times.
According to Chinese media and analysts, the Gulf officials and China will also discuss energy ties and regional security.
GCC’s secretary general Al-Hajraf hopes the visit will help strengthen GCC-Chinese relations and economic, investment and technical cooperation, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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