Sinopec reached a deal with the Saudi Arabian government that will allow it to explore the country's natural gas reserves. Russian firm Lukoil signed a similar deal. The two companies are the first permitted to explore Saudi reserves since the 1973 oil crisis. China imports more crude oil from Saudi Arabia than from any other country. The deals were negotiated after Saudi talks with US firms fell through due to price issues and the political damage suffered by Saudi-US ties since the September 11 attacks.