Russia and China are set to sign a much-delayed, long-term oil supply deal and Beijing is in talks to lend Russian companies $20 billion (Dh73.5 billion) to $25 billion in export-backed loans, industry sources said.

The deal will give Beijing access to 300 million tonnes of Russian oil over the next 20 years, accounting for 4 per cent of its annual demand, while allowing Russian firms to sort out immediate financing needs during an acute liquidity squeeze and an oil price slump.

The deal was to be on the agenda when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met Russian officials yesterday, at a time when Moscow’s relations with the West are at a low ebb.

The Kremlin is seeking to diversify its export routes away from the West and is targeting China as the main market for its East Siberian oil.

(Reuters & Gulf News)