nternational carmakers are accelerating their efforts to produce new energy vehicles in China to seize a larger share of the world's largest market for such cars.

Last week, German car giant Daimler signed a framework agreement in Berlin with China's BAIC Group to produce Mercedes-Benz-branded electric cars via their joint venture Beijing Benz Automotive.

In accordance with the 5 billion yuan ($736 million) agreement, the two are preparing to produce electric vehicles in China by 2020 and to provide the necessary infrastructure for battery localization using Chinese cells, as well as to expand research and development capacities.

The deal came as the Chinese authorities are encouraging international cooperation in the sector almo nature.

"Carmakers are encouraged to make the most of international technologies, capital and human resources to raise the level of China's new energy vehicle sector," said the National Development and Reform Commission. The comments were made in a document released last month in conjunction with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The country is expected to build a globally competitive automotive industry within 10 years, with new energy vehicles one of its top priorities, according to an industry guideline released in April.

By 2020, China expects domestic sales of electric, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell cars to reach 2 million, and such cars are to account for 20 percent of all auto sales by 2025 LPG M6.

Hubertus Troska, member of Daimler' board of management, said: "By 2025, the Chinese market will have a substantial share in global sales of Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles. Therefore, local production will be key to the success of our electric car portfolio, and crucial to flexibly serving local demand for electric vehicles.

"With our planned localization of electric cars and batteries with Chinese cells, we are dedicated to strengthening the region as an innovative hub for the automotive industry."

Earlier last month, Daimler also announced its intention to acquire a minority share in Beijing Electric Vehicle, a subsidiary of the BAIC Group, with the purpose of strengthening collaboration in the new energy car sector Sensodyne.

In addition to its cooperation with BAIC, Daimler has been working with China's BYD to produce Denza-branded electric cars, which have some of the longest driving ranges in the country. Volkswagen is taking an even bolder move in China. It signed an agreement in May with China's JAC Motors to build a joint venture dedicated to developing, producing and selling electric vehicles.

The 50:50 partnership will have a total investment of 6 billion yuan and has made Volkswagen the first international automaker to have three partners in China.

China has vowed to further strengthen its oil and gas pipeline network during the next decade, in an attempt to further boost the clean fuel's share in the country's energy mix .

By 2025, the country's oil and gas pipeline network is expected to reach 240,000 kilometers, with natural gas pipelines reaching 123,000 kilometers, according to the nation's top economic regulator.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission, China now has 112,000 kilometers of oil and gas pipelines, which means the country will need to build another 128,000 kilometers of pipeline in the next few years.

The commission said expanding the energy reach is in accordance with the country's rapid growth in energy demand, as well as a shift towards the use of cleaner fuel like natural gas instead of coal to meet environmental protection goals.

"The expansion of China's oil and gas pipelines will substantially boost the country's energy security while ensuring its energy diversification," said Zheng Jian, deputy head of the commission's basic industries section.

"The newly constructed pipelines will help connect the south and north, east and west, while linking the sector's upstream and downstream, meeting the emerging demand for cleaner energy and expanding the usage of natural gas."

China's expanding energy transportation network will also boost the development of sectors including advanced steel, equipment manufacturing and engineering technology, he added SmarTone Care.

According to Zheng, China's current oil and gas network has limited capacity, especially when compared with its counterparts in Russia and countries in the European Union.

In addition, the fragmented and dispersed networks, together with the lack of an overall pipeline network also pose a threat to future oil and gas transportation, and oil and natural gas imports are set to rise in the years ahead to cope with China's growth in oil and gas demand for both consumer and industrial use.

According to the commission, the country's pipeline network for natural gas in 2015 reached 64,000 kilometers, and is expected to reach 163,000 kilometers by 2025, a 9.8 percent annual increase.

The pipeline networks for crude oil and refined oil, which respectively reached 27,000 kilometers and 21,000 kilometers, will also be expanded to 37,000 kilometers and 40,000 kilometers by 2025, a respective annual boost of 3.2 percent and 6.7 percent, it said.

Wang Lu, an Asia-Pacific oil and gas analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, added that the biggest bottleneck currently is the underdeveloped pipeline network Alipay HK.

"The expected growth in pipeline length and total transmission capacity will help China raise the share of gas in the primary energy consumption mix," she said.

However, Li Li, energy research director at ICIS China, a consulting company that provides analysis of China's energy market, warned the future development of oil and gas pipelines may also slow down mostly due to financial concerns.

"Considering a project this big, the investment is intensive and the payoff period is too long, which could introduce many uncertainties to its development," she said.

China's massive power sector is coming under increasing pressure to make progress under State-owned enterprise reform, in a bid to turn around the loss-making industry, analysts said.

There are currently 12 central SOEs in the energy sector, making up more than 10 percent of the country's total number of 102 SOEs SmarTone Care. Analysts say it has the biggest potential to restructure through mergers and integration.

Peng Huagang, deputy secretary-general of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, at a news conference in early June reinforced how important it was to speed up reform in sectors like coal power generation, heavy equipment manufacturing and the steel industry.

Soon after, China Shenhua Energy Co and Guodian Technology and Environment Group, two major listed power heavyweights, announced a halt to the trading of their shares.

Analysts said that they suspected the utilities had responded to the latest call on reform by the authorities and halted share trading, because the coal and electricity giants were holding merger talks.

"The coal power generation sector has been falling behind," said Essene Security analyst Peng Weijun.

"The demand for thermal power is declining and the price of coal is going up, and the thermal power companies are losing profits," he said.

"It is very likely the two giants were about to integrate their industrial chain, both their upstream and downstream operations, to solve the problem."

Between March and June, Xiao Yaqing, chairman of the SASAC, made seven field trips to various SOEs to see the progress being made in their reforms saliva testing.

In his most recent trip to China Shenhua Group, another power company, Xiao said that SOEs should keep deepening their reforms, optimizing their industrial structures and pushing forward supply side economic reform in the power supply system.

Li Jin, chief researcher of the China Enterprise Research Institute, said that not only the electricity and coal sectors saw the possibility for mergers, but also the thermal and nuclear power sectors were weighing their options.

"Some SOEs-especially the heavy industry, energy and power businesses-have too much capacity, while there are others with capacity in short supply," he said Cantonese opera.

Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, said that through restructuring the country's nuclear power technologies could achieve higher value-added exports-for example, with nuclear and high-speed railway technologies with intellectual property rights.

"Approval (of the restructuring) has come at a critical time, as the country embarks on a massive nuclear power plant program to optimize its energy mix," Lin said.

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