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Blocks Opened up to Foreigners
PetroChina, China's largest oil producer, is expected to offer scores of blocks for oil and gas exploration and development for foreign cooperation soon.

Zhang Xiangning, an official from PetroChina's Foreign Cooperation Administration Department, Thursday said the company would offer 18 blocks in Northwest China's Tarim Basin, North China's Ordos Basin, and Northeast China's Songliao Basin, for cooperation exploitation.

This is the first time for China to offer so many blocks for foreign cooperation on the Chinese soil. And along with 23 pockets that are already under negotiation with foreign companies, the potential production of these areas is expected to account for 20 percent of the company's total production, said Zhang.

The blocks include the Kela II gas field in Tarim Basin, which is one of the nation's largest and richest gas fields.

According to Zhang, the 18 blocks would be offered for public bidding in one or two months.

Among these blocks, one is for risk exploration co-operation in which foreign companies would share all the exploration risks and share the discoveries with PetroChina in case of any commercial findings. The remaining blocks include three for gas development, 11 for oil development, and three for production improvement.

Speaking on a panel during a three-day regional meeting of the World Petroleum Congress, Zhang said the opening up of new blocks is consistent with China's call for speed-up of domestic oil and gas production, which is listed high in the nation's development plan for the next five years.

China imported 70 million tons of oil last year. It is predicted that half of the nation's consumption will be imports in not a very long future.

To date, PetroChina has signed 49 oil contracts with oil companies from 49 countries and regions. But few companies have achieved success.

"This time, it will be different. Foreign companies will enjoy lots of preferential policies,'' said Zhang.

Earlier on Monday, at the same congress, Zeng Peiyan, minister of the State Development Planning Commission, said, foreign companies that invest in the oil industry in the western areas would enjoy a preferential tax of 15 percent, as against the normal rate of 30 percent.

Zeng said these foreign companies would also enjoy cuts in exploration charges.

Zhang said the firm to explore the 13 blocks among the 18 new offerings, which are located in the west, will enjoy these policies.

(China Daily 09/21/2001)

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