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New Bohai Oil Fields Discovered
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In a happily synchronized announcement, China's top oil producing and offshore oil companies simultaneously unveiled major discoveries yesterday.

PetroChina announced the discovery of a "very rich" oil field in Bohai Bay, the biggest such find in China for a decade while CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corp.) revealed it had made an "exciting find", also in Bohai Bay.

The PetroChina discovery will bear a yield increase for the biggest national oil producer, particularly when combined alongside the huge new gas field the company recently unearthed in Sichuan Province.

With an initial daily output of 500 tons (3,700 barrels), the Bohai Bay field is "the largest find in China in 10 years," Jiang Jiemin, vice-chairman and president of PetroChina, said while briefing in Hong Kong yesterday.

Although he did not provide information on the total reserves of the Bohai oil field, it was confirmed that the Sichuan gas field possesses a daily capacity of 1 million cubic meters.

"The two new fields are milestone discoveries. They have very steady output so far," said Jiang.

PetroChina currently operates six domestic oil and gas fields, each possessing an individual annual output surpassing 10 million tons of oil.

Prior to these twin discoveries, China's largest fossil fuel find in the last 10 years had been a 400-million-ton oil field in northwest China, also found by PetroChina.

Meanwhile, CNOOC stole some of PetroChina's limelight with news that their own Bohai Bay discovery had tentatively yielded 1,600 barrels of oil in a test and could provide approximately 10 million cubic feet of gas per day.

Zhu Weilin, vice-president of CNOOC, said: "We hope to develop a large-scale cluster of oil and gas fields (there) in the future."

The "encouraging" discoveries will come as a significant relief to China's unquenchable thirst for energy and increase the potential for eventual energy independence, according to Han Xuegong, a senior consultant at CNPC, PetroChina's parent company.

"Major oil firms in China share common strategic priorities for domestic oil and gas exploration and production. These discoveries will affirm these strategies and provide stronger business bases for local oil and gas fields," Han said.

As production output at existing oil fields continues its gentle slide, oil companies are exploring all avenues to provide new input and maintain the country's energy stability.

"Oil and gas fields located in east China are generally older and are witnessing decreasing output. Therefore, these new discoveries are especially significant," Han pointed out.

Pressured by a demanding domestic market, PetroChina raised its production to top 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent last year with crude oil accounting for 831 million barrels thereof.

Jiang also predicted that PetroChina's oil output could well rise to 2.3 million barrels a day this year, with gas production following this trend, peaking 4.56 billion cubic feet a day. The company's refineries are set to process over 2.25 million barrels of crude daily.

On the back of a strong 2006 where it registered a turnover of 689 billion yuan (US$89 billion), PetroChina's bottom line could suffer this year as capital spending is forced up by 25 percent due to the company's need to drill deeper and further afield in its quest for oil and gas.

(China Daily March 20, 2007)

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