04/03/2007, 00.00
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Beijing explores sea beds, in search of oil

Increased costs and rising consumption added to dwindling reserves in the East China oil fields push big oil companies to step up offshore exploration, notably in Bohai Bay where rich reserves have been discovered. The South China Sea and African waters also ear marked for deep sea exploration.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The China National Petroleum Corp (Cnpc), announced today that it will ramp up its exploration of offshore gas and oil reserves this year.  The biggest oil discovery in China in 10 years was recently confirmed in the Bohai Sea.   

Shi Lin, president of the China National Petroleum Offshore Engineering, a subsidiary of the Cnpc, said that “the area of Bohai Bay is our top priority”. “We plan to roll out an annual 4 to 5 million tonnes of oil equivalent from Bohai offshore exploration and production in three years”.

As part of the investment, the company intends to build a multi purpose ocean engineering vessel for its operations in Bohai.  Meanwhile in the Nanpu area of Bohai Bay am oil field has recently been discovered with an estimated 2.2 billion barrels of oil (297.3 million tonnes), the largest single discovery in China in over 10 years.  Over three years the reverse daily out put will reach 200,800 barrels.  Over 80% of China’s under sea reserves are located in Bohai Bay.   

Han Xuegong, a senior consultant with Cnpc, , noted that given soaring energy demand and the decreasing production in oil fields located in the eastern part of the country, it is “natural” for national conglomerates to make more efforts offshore, even if this “involves higher risks and requires more investment and technical expertise”. In 2006China imported 47% of its petrol, up 4.1% from 2005.

This is why the company is also preparing for deep-sea exploration of the South China Sea and for acquiring offshore resources in Africa.  

Zhang Weiping, deputy chief economist of the China National Offshore Oil Corp CNOOC, said that 70 percent of oil reserves in the South China Sea are in deep water, which require deep-sea drilling capacity. Both Cnpc and Cnooc are developing deep-water drilling platforms with a 3,000-meter extraction capacity.


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