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China Suspends Mines, Oil Wells, Plants After Terrible Quake

China called for coal mines, chemical plants and oil and gas wells to suspend production to avoid further casualties after the country's strongest earthquake in 58 years killed almost 10,000 people

China called for coal mines, chemical plants and oil and gas wells to suspend production to avoid further casualties after the country’s strongest earthquake in 58 years killed almost 10,000 people.

Companies in affected areas must evacuate workers and can’t resume output until conditions allow for safe operations, the Beijing-based State Administration of Work Safety said on its website on Tuesday.

Sichuan province, where Monday’s 7.9 magnitude temblor struck, holds about 40 percent of China’s natural gas reserves and accounted for 22 percent of its output in 2006.

The earthquake damaged power plants and transmission lines and may cut the nation’s energy demand. The State Electricity Regulatory Commission, China’s power industry regulator, yesterday ordered “24-hour” monitoring at generation and distribution networks asked utilities to report accidents immediately.

China’s oil imports, third-highest in the world, fell for the first time in 18 months in April as record crude prices discouraged refiners from purchasing oil to turn into fuel for sale below cost. Oil for June delivery fell a much as or 0.9 percent, to $123.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.