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China Urges Russia to Help Yukos to Resume Oil Shipments

Beijing is pushing the Russian government to intervene to get Russia's top oil exporter to continue all its shipments to China. The Russian company Yukos says it will stop crude oil deliveries next week because it cannot afford the shipping costs.

News that the Russian oil exporter has canceled the delivery of a million tons of oil triggered deep concern in China, which is trying to meet skyrocketing oil demand.

Yukos had a contract to deliver the oil by the end of this year to China National Petroleum Corporation. Yukos officials say it will fulfill another contract to send more than 750,000 tons to another Chinese company, Sinopec.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan on Tuesday said he hopes Yukos can carry out the oil delivery contracts, and called on Moscow for help.

"We hope the governmental agreements between the two sides can be implemented, and we hope that the Russian government can encourage the company on the Russian side to implement this agreement," he said.

China's government is struggling to meet the country's surging energy demand. The government on Tuesday said crude oil imports over the past 12 months jumped by 37 percent.

The Yukos announcement came just ahead of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit to Russia, which begins Thursday. Among other things, Mr. Wen is expected to discuss boosting energy cooperation with Russian leaders, including a proposal to extend an oil pipeline from Russia to China.

Yukos' move to cancel the shipments is seen by some as an attempt to pressure the Russian government to relent in a dispute over the company's back taxes. Russian authorities have frozen Yukos' bank accounts as part of an effort to get the company to pay more than $7 billion in taxes.

Global oil prices topped $46 a barrel Monday after the Yukos announcement.

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