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China, Russia to Jointly Explore Oil, Gas in Border Areas
China and Russia have reached an agreement to jointly survey oil and natural gas resources in their border areas, an official from northeast China's Heilongjiang Province said.

The cooperation, the first of its kind between the two countries, is another step following the oil supply deal signed in May that will pump 30 million tons of Russian crude to China once it is fully operational.

Song Kui, researcher with the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said that the cooperation would lay a solid foundation for the two countries' future cooperation in exploiting natural gas and oil resources.

According to the agreement inked by relevant departments of Heilongjiang Province and the Primorskiy Kray of Russia, scientists from both sides will make a separate survey within their territorial land some 200 kilometers away from the border in the light of a common research standard.

The geological survey will be mainly done in three trans-border basins, namely the Muhe-Ushumun, the Sunwu-Zeysko Bureinskaya and the Sanjiang-Amur, as a letter of cooperation intent signed last year reveals.

Scientists will not only make clear the geological features of the basins but also establish uniform criteria for the stratum partition and analyze the prospect of the oil and gas field.

To make sure the program goes smoothly, an expert panel made up of scientists from both sides will be established, and relevant institutions and enterprises have been required to sign a letter of responsibility.

Wang Zhongren, deputy director of the Heilongjiang Development and Planning Commission, said that further discussions could be expected this fall to map out a detailed timetable and research plan.

Director Sorokin with the Amur Science Center of Far East Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences said that a preliminary geological survey had detected an oil and gas field with a maximum reserve of 80 million tons.

Chinese petroleum enterprises that made independent surveys earlier on the area within China's boundary also found possible reserve of gas and oil.

Large scale exploitation has been carried out since the 1970s in the Songhuajiang-Liaohe Basin of Heilongjiang where more than 1.7 billion tons of crude oil was sourced by the end of last year.

About 40 percent of the country's total oil sources are running out, and Chinese petroleum enterprises have doubled efforts to find new underground oil and gas fields.

Meanwhile, the country's market demand for energy resources, powered by continuous economic growth, also saw fast increase. China became a net oil importer in 1993 and the largest oil consumer after the United States and Japan in 1996.

(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2003)

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