August 16, 2005Speeding from the scene of the crime, a Chinese boy tows a floating plastic bag of stolen natural gas last week. Flouting a government ban, farmers around the central Chinese town of Pucheng frequently filch gas from the local oil field.
As Chinese industry booms and automobile use spreads, the country as a whole appears to be on a feverish quest for fossil fuels. Oil consumption rose by 11 percent last year, and the number of private autos hit 14 million in 2003and is expected to rise to 150 million by 2015. (See "China's Boom Is Bust for Global Environment, Study Warns.")
China National Offshore Oil Corporation dropped its bid for U.S. oil and natural gas company Unocal earlier this month. But the China National Petroleum Corporation, the country's biggest oil company, has now joined with an Indian company in an effort to buy PetroKazakhstan, a Canadian company with oil fields in the central Asian country of Kazakhstan.
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