Tue, Aug 15, 2006 - Page 11 News List

CPC stepping up oil exploration


State-owned Chinese Petroleum Corp (CPC, 中油) will step up overseas oil exploration amid soaring world oil prices, and is assessing the possibility of oil exploration in Paraguay and Guatemala, CPC officials said yesterday.

The CPC has sent officials to the two countries in Central and South America to learn more about oil reserve information there, they said. Guatemala is rich in crude oil, while Paraguay is rich in natural gas, as far as they were aware, the officials said.

The CPC is also interested in Sao Tome and Principe after reports said there are probably oil reserves in waters near the African country, they said.

However, the oil reserves are reportedly in a deep-water zone, and exploration could prove costly, they said. With a limited budget for overseas oil exploration, the CPC will collect more information for further study, they added.

The officials made the remarks as new Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) said in a recent interview with CNA that he would agree to the CPC's request to increase its budget for oil exploration, although the budget still needs to be passed by the legislature.

CPC officials noted that this year's budget for oil exploration has been set at NT$3.2 billion (US$97.56 million). The company has submitted a budget request of around NT$3 billion for next year, with overseas exploration accounting for a large part of it.

They also said that the CPC's oil exploration in Ecuador and Venezuela has borne fruit. Crude oil production has begun in Ecuador, while production in Venezuela will begin at the end of this year or early next year.

They stressed that if the exploration overseas is successful, it will bring a steady supply of oil and also create a surplus for the company and mitigate the impact of soaring oil prices, which they said was positive for the nation, the company and consumers.

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