Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region plans to overtake northeast China's Daqing to become the country's largest oil production area in the next few years, said a top local government official Monday.
Xinjiang, currently China's third largest oil producing area, plans to more than double its oil production to 50 million tons in the near future from 22 million tons last year, according to Ismail Tiliwaldi, chairman of the autonomous region.
In the long run, Xinjiang is expected to pump 100 million tons of crude oil a year, or nearly 60 percent of China's total last year, Tiliwaldi said in an interview with Beijing-based media, including China Daily. The targets, if realized, will help China greatly offset the slowing production of its older oilfields.
As oilfields such as Daqing that accounts for one-third of China's oil production become depleted, the central government is pinning its oil hopes on vast virgin fields in Xinjiang to boost production. Xinjiang sits on 30 percent of the nation's total oil reserves and 34 percent of its natural gas resources, said the chairman.
He vowed to further expedite oil exploration in potential areas, including Karamay, Turpan Basin and Tarim Basin.
The oil and gas industry accounted for 60 percent of the incremental industrial value of Xinjiang last year.
Thanks to the growth of the oil and gas businesses, and the central government's financial support, Xinjiang has maintained a gross domestic product growth of more than 10 percent annually for the past two years, well above the national average.
The autonomous region's economic prosperity has underpinned its social stability.
No terrorist attacks have been reported in Xinjiang in the past two years, Tiliwaldi added.
This period of peace has augured well for the tourism industry. More than 300,000 foreign tourists visited Xinjiang last year, a jump of 87 percent from 2003. And more than 12 million domestic travelers made their way there in 2004, bringing in revenue of 10.9 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion).
The chairman said the overall situation in Xinjiang is good and all ethnic groups are enjoying the autonomous region's prosperity.
(China Daily June 14, 2005)