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CNOOC Offers Oil and Gas Blocks

The China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) is offering 10 offshore oil and gas blocks to foreign companies for exploration and development this year, the company has announced.

The blocks cover a total area of nearly 67,000 square kilometers in Bohai Bay, the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea, with water depths ranging from 10 to 200 meters.

China is stepping up efforts to tap its offshore oil and gas resources to feed the roaring economy and supplement waning onshore reserves.

CNOOC is the largest offshore oil producer in China. It enjoys exclusive rights to explore for, produce and market China's offshore oil in cooperation with foreign companies.

At the beginning of each year, CNOOC routinely opens up selected blocks to foreign bidders. Big-name partners include Royal Dutch/Shell, Kerr-McGee and ConocoPhillips.

However, China's largest oil producer, China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), and Asia's top refiner China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) are currently challenging CNOOC's domination.

Last July, CNPC acquired a license to search for oil and gas in the South China Sea and set up an offshore engineering arm four months later. Sinopec was awarded exploration rights in the East China Sea.

In another development, CNOOC announced on Tuesday that it had found another oil and gas field, Wei 6-10-1, in the western part of the South China Sea. Two drill-stem tests at the prospecting well, located 35 kilometers southwest of Weizhou Island, indicate that daily oil output should reach 1,900 barrels and gas output 15,000 cubic meters..

(China Daily, People's Daily March 24, 2005)

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