Tue, Aug 01, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Su to visit Chad to secure oil, fight China influence


Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) will head a delegation traveling to Chad on Sunday to try to ensure that the war-torn African country honors a promise to sell oil to Taiwan, according to a report yesterday.

Delegation members will include trade officials and Pan Wen-yen (潘文炎), chairman of the state oil company Chinese Petroleum Corp (CPC), the Chinese-language Economic Daily News said.

Chad granted Taiwan's CPC 25 percent exploration rights in the "Block H" oil field in 2003, but delayed signing the oil exploration contract with CPC until January this year, triggering speculation that Chad was courting China.

Last October, CPC opened a representative office in Chad and donated US$3.79 million to the nation, the Economic Daily News said.

In January, Chad finally signed a four-year contract.

Under the deal, CPC and Chadian oil companies would drill for oil in three areas, including the Lake Chad basin and the Doba basin, with CPC planning to invest US$30 million in the project.

But the joint exploration was suspended in April when civil war broke out in Chad.

Su's visit aims to speed up the oil exploration and to prevent Chad from signing any deals with China when an official from the China Chamber of Commerce visits Africa this month, the daily said.

The paper said President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) may include Chad on his itinerary when he visits Africa in November.

Taiwan is recognized internationally by only 25 mostly small nations, six of them in Africa.

China has been wooing Taiwan's diplomatic allies to switch recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

Chad produces around 160,000 barrels of oil per day, a relatively small amount, but its value has grown as world oil prices have soared to near-historic highs.

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