THEHRAN (Commodity Online): China is moving ahead with bilateral co-operations in the field of energy exchange and other sectors with Iran, ignoring Western countries calls for stringent sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

Iran's North Drilling Company (NDC) has inked a pact of $143 million contract with CPTDC, a unit of China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), for buying an oil rig for use in the Persian Gulf, said the NDC Managing Director.

He said his company was also planning to place orders for two additional oil drilling rigs with the Chinese company. China, a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, is a major buyer of Iranian crude.

China views Iran as a crucial partner in helping to achieve energy independence. China is investing in massive joint exploration, extraction and refining projects in Iran.