Fri, Jan 28, 2005 - Page 10 News List

CPC may invest millions in oil exploration in Chad


State-owned Chinese Petroleum Corp (中油) said it may pay US$100 million to the Chad government for rights to explore for oil and gas in the landlocked African country.

The company and the Chad government reached a preliminary agreement for Chinese Petroleum to own 20 percent of rights to blocks covering 440,000 square kilometers, said Su Fu-chen (蘇福欽), chief executive of the company's exploration and production unit.

That's an area more than ten times the size of Taiwan, he said.

"The Chad government has strong intention to give us the rights," Su said by phone yesterday. He said the two sides don't have a timetable for signing a formal contract.

Taiwan depends on imports for almost all of its oil requirements and wants to diversify its sources for the fuel.

Supply from Chinese Petroleum accounts for about 70 percent of the nation's oil demand which is growing at 4 percent a year.

The blocks in Chad, where production may begin in three to five years, may have as much as 1 billion barrels in oil reserves, Chinese Petroleum vice president Lin Cheng-hsiung (林正雄) said. That makes the acreage the biggest Chinese Petroleum has invested in.

The Taipei-based company aims to increase income from exploration and drilling operations to one-third of the company's profit. The company generated as much as 10 percent of its profit from production of oil and gas last year in Taiwan and countries, including Indonesia and Ecuador. The company is also seeking new investment opportunities in Indonesia, Su said.

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