China must further purge energy sector of Zhou scandal "poison", former top official says

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China needs to further purge its oil industry of the "poison" of disgraced security chief Zhou Yongkang to ensure healthy development that lets the sector compete internationally, a former top energy executive said on Friday (March 11).

Zhou was jailed for life for corruption last year in one of the country's most dramatic graft scandals since the 1949 revolution. Dozens of his associates have also been arrested, many in the oil industry that was one of his power bases.

Zhou was previously head of state-run China National Petroleum Corp, the parent of PetroChina .

In unusual frank public comments on the sidelines of China's annual meeting of parliament, Fu Chengyu, former chairman of state energy giant Sinopec, said Zhou had poisoned the morals of the industry and officials.

"In the oil industry, we should further purge the poison of Zhou Yongkang. If we can't deal with this properly we can't have healthy development of the industry and we won't be able to compete internationally," Fu told a news briefing.

One of China's most charismatic and reform-minded oil industry executives, Fu is now a member of a parliament's largely ceremonial advisory body.

China's petroleum industry needs to revamp its systems and mechanisms, he said. "Deeper reforms are needed," he added.

Beijing is expected to soon unveil a reform plan for China's oil and gas sector, which is dominated by state giants CNPC, Sinopec and CNOOC.

Massive expansions over the past two decades have allowed the three firms to feed China's thirst for energy, but also to become a breeding ground for corruption.

President Xi Jinping has warned that rampant corruption threatens the survival of the ruling Communist Party and has waged a war on graft in the past three years that has taken down scores of top officials in the party, the government, the military and state-owned companies.