Energy Market Dynamics: Conclusions for Russia and China

05.04.2017

Within the framework of the fifth session of the Russian-Chinese conference, titled "Energy market dynamics: conclusions for Russia and China", the following speakers addressed the audience: Wang Shengzi, Chief Representative of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in the Russian Federation; Alexey Grivach, Deputy Director of the National Energy Security Fund; Vyacheslav Kulagin, Head of Oil and Gas sector development, Department for Russia and the World, Energy Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Liu Xu, Executive Director of the  Center for International Energy and Environment Strategy Studies, Renmin University of China; Shi Ze, Director of the Center for Eurasian Security and Development of China Institute of International Studies.

Moderator of the session was Sheng Shiliang, Chief Research Fellow, World Affairs Research Center, Xinhua News Agency.

Before the beginning of the session Stanislav Voskresensky, deputy minister of economic development of the Russian Federation, held a keynote speech.

He mentioned that in a year the share of Russia's trade with APR countries grew from 28 to 30%, and trade with China increased by 3.9% compared to 2015. Voskresensky also paid attention to the growth of investments from China during the third quarter by 13%. Deputy minister said that the world is entering an explicit phase of protectionism, and on this background the bilateral Russian-Chinese cooperation is particularly important. Voskresensky recalled a large number of successful joint projects in addition to energy. Today there are 17 of them. He highlighted three conditions that can bring significant results to the cooperation of Russia and China. First, the growth of the middle class and the demand for quality products in Asia provide an opportunity for long-term cooperation. But the Chinese government should take a number of measures to admit Russian products to its domestic markets. Joint Russian-Chinese production can become a serious factor in the Asian market. Second, it is necessary to develop the transit potential, including the construction of joint ports in the Far East. Contacts between private companies are becoming more intensive, which is an important indicator of successful cooperation. Finally, Voskresensky mentioned the importance of e-commerce, its potential for bilateral cooperation.

Wang Shengzi mentioned the mutual humanitarian support of Russian and Chinese private companies in situations like the earthquake in China in 2008 and the events in South Ossetia. This, according to Wang, is an indicator of good partnership, which goes beyond pure business. Due to fluctuations of oil and gas prices, intensive discussions of the construction of a new branch of gas supplies from Russia to China are quite logical. It is necessary to strive for vertical cooperation, to expand the spheres of interaction, especially taking into account the overall benefits and risks. He is confident that the development of cooperation between big private companies of Russia and China has a significant impact on the relations between two countries and leads to intensive cooperation between medium and small private companies.

Vyacheslav Kulagin noted the worldwide trend to increase energy consumption and saw no reason to reduce consumption for the next forty years. He believes that in the long term Russia will be China's key exporter of energy resources, and China for Russia is a key importer. Therefore, the dynamics of development of relations in the energy sector in the coming decades seems positive. Nevertheless, due to the market instability, prices flows, mutual long-term guarantees for the products sales are needed. Kulagin also mentioned the problem of ecology in the APR and stressed the need for a balance between ecology and economics. He said about future growth of gas exports from Russia to the east, the availability of a large potential in the field of joint coal mining and the development of energy projects.

Shi Ze highlighted the fall of oil prices as the main reason for Russia's financial difficulties, an obstacle to growth in the oil and gas sector. It led to a decline in oil and gas activity, losses of Chinese enterprises. At the same time, according to Shi, the decline of oil prices allows the Chinese country to bargain about prices of oil and gas resources. The consequences of falling prices affect the export of Chinese products, and China is one of the key countries for oil and gas turnover from Russia. Nevertheless, Shi believes that the improvement of all-round cooperation in the energy sector can be a new stimulus to the sustainable development of the Chinese economy and, consequently, the strengthening of bilateral economic interests and regional security.

Liu Xu spoke about the dynamic development of China-Russia energy cooperation over 20 years, noting a number of misunderstandings. Among them is the uncertainty whether political or economic factors are more important for the development of the bilateral cooperation; which of the parties will receive great benefits, etc. Lui believes that it is necessary to intensify bilateral research and information exchange in the sphere of strategic energy relations. A thorough analysis of existing projects is needed.

Read summaries of all sessions of the Russian-Chinese conference

Session 1. Transformation of the Political and Economic World Around Us: Opportunities and Threats for China and Russia

Session 2. Potential for Relations in the China-Russia-US Triangle

Session 3. Cybersecurity and the Cybersphere

Session 4. Situational Dynamics in the “Shared Neighborhood” Countries around Russia and China

Session 5. Energy Market Dynamics: Conclusions for Russia and China

Session 6. Economic Cooperation as Essential Constituent of Comprehensive Sino-Russian Partnership


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