Yesterday press reports said the deal was in the bag but Putin’ spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the issue was “still being worked on”.
Russia’s Rosneft and Transneft and the China National Petroleum Corporation have until 25 November to sign the final long-term oil supply deal.
The pipeline will have a capacity of 15 million tonnes of oil per year (or about 4 per cent of China’s consumption) and will be a branch of the main East Siberia-Pacific Ocean trunk pipeline, still under construction, which should supply the whole of Asia with Russian oil.
Beijing will provide the Russian companies with billions of dollars to build the pipelines, to be repaid in oil.
Beijing has thus overtaken Japan’s fierce competition. Tokyo sought to get Moscow to build its pipeline to the Pacific Ocean and the Japanese islands.
Wen, who is in Moscow for the Russia-China economic Forum, said the two countries should “deepen co-operation in the energy sphere.”
“Russia and China are growing economies with major influence in the world,” Mr Wen said, adding that they should also step up co-operation in the financial sector to fight the global crisis and join forces to reform the global financial system.
“We need a new system whereby developing nations will have a stronger say. We need to diversify the global currency system, to support its stability through the use of different currencies,” he also said.
Putin agreed. “It's hard to find another country in the world that is our partner with such a wide range of interaction,” Putin said after the talks.
The Russian prime minister also lambasted the United States for its irresponsible behaviour in failing to prevent the global crisis.
Faced with the world crisis, China’s foreign reserves stand at US$ 1.9 trillion whilst Russia’s are US$ 500 billion, largely from energy sales.
But Russia is still only the 5th largest exporter of crude oil to energy-hungry China.
“We need to build oil and gas pipelines, increase downstream and upstream co-operation, and increase co-operation in the nuclear sphere,” Zhang Guobao, head of China's State Energy Bureau, said.
The two countries have also signed a number of agreements, including the sale of Russian civilian heavy helicopters and the development a new model of heavy helicopter that brings together Russian technology and Chinese capital.