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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

China signs $41 billion energy deal with Australia

SYDNEY — Australia has signed a record 41.3 billion US dollar deal to supply Chinese energy giant PetroChina with liquefied natural gas, officials said.

The agreement, which represents the biggest foreign investment in Australia, is for PetroChina to buy 2.25 million tonnes a year over the next two decades from ExxonMobil's Gorgon gas field.

"This agreement has enormous value for the Australian economy and society, generating the wealth we need to continue to develop our resources and technology, and sustain our communities," Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said late on Tuesday.

The deal comes a week after ExxonMobil signed a 25 billion dollar contract with India's Petronet, and despite troubled recent relations between Australia and China over the detention of a mining executive.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith also told parliament on Tuesday that a "most unhappy" China had downgraded an official visit in anger at Australia's move to let exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer into the country.

However, Ferguson said the liquefied gas deal was a "landmark in our relationship with China."

"We are a country built on foreign investment and we continue to welcome investments that develop our resources for the benefit of all Australians," he said.

"PetroChina is an increasingly important partner in the Australian LNG industry and I hope the relationship will be long and successful."

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