04/04/2006, 00.00
CHINA - ANGOLA
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Angola is China's main oil supplier

In exchange for crude, Beijing has extended massive credit and Chinese firms are participating in reconstruction works. But it is feared the wealth is not reaching the population.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In February, Angola was China's main oil supplier, beating Saudi Arabia to cover 13% of its imports.

The Petromatrix gmbh(PG) specialist company said on 30 March that Angola supplied 2.12 million tons of crude in that month, as compared to 1.98 million tons from the Arab country. In January, it supplied "only" 1.55 million tons compared to 1.89 million from Iran and 1.55 million from Saudi Arabia. Beijing ranks second in importers of Angolan oil after the United States.

"Chinese imports of Angolan crude are up 42% in one year and are taking most of the Angolan production increase," PG said.

The sub-Saharan country, Africa's second largest producer after Nigeria, wants to double its production over three years to go from its current rate of 1.3 million barrels per day to two million barrels in 2008.

For years now, China has been the main reconstruction partner of Angola, which emerged from a bloody 27-year civil war in 2002. Beijing has given credit worth two billion US dollars, backed by oil exports, and Chinese firms are actively implementing infrastructural projects and services like roads, bridges, public buildings, homes and other things. Last week, China and Angola announced the setting up of a new consortium between the state-owned companied Sonangol oil and Sinopec, to build an oil refinery in Lobito with a capacity of 240,000 barrels per day.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has criticized the funding given by China, saying that Beijing does not care how the money is used. The IMF had offered subsidized loans to Luanda on condition that it allowed effective monitoring of how the money was used and that it reformed its corrupt power system, which benefits a restricted elite and leaves 13 million people in poverty. The aid from Beijing allowed Angola to turn town the Fund's proposal.

China, according to its state media, plans to have strategic oil reserves of about 100 million barrels, and it projects spending of around 180 billion yuan (22.5 billion US dollars) on refineries and other plans in the petro-chemical sector within the next five years.

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