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Oilfield May Have 'More Reserves' than Estimated
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Latest explorations indicate Jidong Nanpu Oilfield in Bohai Bay may have more reserves than previously estimated, PetroChina President Jiang Jiemin said yesterday.

"The Jidong Nanpu Oilfield has huge and quality reserves of up to 5 million tons per square km. The 1-billion-ton reserve announced earlier is not the final figure. As our explorations deepen, we expect to discover more reserves," Jiang said.

Corroborating Jiang, Zhai Guangming, a renowned geologist with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and Jidong Oilfield's first general manger, said that even half of Bohai Bay's resource has not been tapped.

Earlier, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), PetroChina's parent company, had said the newly found oilfield had a reserve of 1 billion tons, or about 7.35 billion barrels of oil, the largest discovery in the country in the past four decades.

CNPC is exploring the offshore potential at the oilfield further to come up with a more accurate reserve figure, which may be subject to State assessment by July, said Shi Lin, president of CNPC's offshore subsidiary, China National Petroleum Offshore Engineering Co.

It is very likely that the official reserve figure, to be assessed by State resource reserve authority, will exceed 1 billion tons, Shi said.

Oil production in Bohai Bay's onshore areas have been equal to that of Daqing Oilfield, that is, more than 40 million tons, Shi said. And the offshore blocks seem to have greater potential.

According to CNPC's estimates, by 2012 the Nanpu Oilfield could produce 10 million tons of crude every year, with 7 million tons coming from offshore areas. After further tapping the Nanpu block, CNPC will shift its focus to other offshore areas around the bay such as Jinzhou and Panjin before the end of this year, Shi said.

Rising demand

Year-on-year crude production in China's old oilfields, such as Daqing, has been declining in recent times. Hence, the latest discoveries in the bay by PetroChina and CNOOC have come as a shot in the arm both for the companies' business and China's energy supply, analysts said.

More importantly, the new discoveries will help the country greatly in meeting its soaring energy needs, Han Xuegong, a senior consultant with CNPC, said.

China's top offshore oil and gas company CNOOC, too, has made some exciting discoveries in Bohai Bay, and is expecting to find "a cluster of quality oil and gas fields".

The demand for fuel in China has increased with the rapid growth of its economy. Last year, the country consumed more than 320 million tons of crude, an year-on-year increase of 7.1 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Last year, 145.18 million tons of crude - or 45 percent of the total crude consumption - was imported, Xinhua News Agency has said, quoting NBS figures.

General Administration of Customs (GAC) data show that China imported a record 14.82 million tons of crude in April, up 23 percent year-on-year. Crude imports rose 10.8 percent year-on-year in the first four months of this year to reach 54.46 million tons.

In contrast, the country's crude exports from January to April fell 55 percent year-on-year to 1.07 million tons, according to customs figures.

The fact that people bought crude in advance to prepare for the peak oil consumption season in summer is the major reason behind the record monthly increase in imports, an industry insider said.

"Chinese importers have become wiser when it comes to choosing the right timing to buy crude from the international market. The current oil price is relatively lower, and a lot of consumers are buying in advance for summer," said Niu Li, an economist with the State Information Center, affiliated to China's top economic planner the National Development and Reform Commission.

(China Daily May 17, 2007)

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