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Tue, May 14, 2002 - Page 18 News List

CPC says CNOOP deal far from signed

STAFF WRITER , WITH AGENCIES

An executive of the state-run Chinese Petroleum Corp (中油) yesterday refuted media reports that the company will this week sign a formal contract with its mainland counterpart, China Na-tional Offshore Oil Corp (中國海洋石油), to jointly explore oil and natural gas in the Taiwan Strait.

"[We] haven't confirmed when [both sides] will sign the contract for the joint exploration project," Chinese Petroleum President Pan Wen-yen (潘文炎) told reporters at the Legislative Yuan. "It is still in the preparation stage."

Earlier yesterday, several news media outlets reported that the contract for the joint venture between Chinese Petroleum and China National Offshore is scheduled to be signed on Thursday when China National Offshore President Wei Liu-cheng (衛留成) will arrive in Taipei.

The contract calls for the establishment of a joint venture, the Tainan-Chaoshan Petroleum Co (台南潮汕石油), which will register in the Virgin Islands with an initial capitalization of US$50,000. Chinese Petroleum and China National Offshore would each share 50 percent of the stake, and branch offices will be set up in Taipei and Shenzhen, respectively, within three months after the contract is forged, the reports said.

The project will include seismic testing and drilling in an area covering 15,400km2 in the Tainan basin between south Taiwan and China's Guangdong province, the reports said, citing an unnamed Chinese Petroleum official.

Under the contract, the new venture will prospect for oil in an area covering 15,400km2 near the median line of the Taiwan Strait and centered on a spot 21-23 degrees north latitude and 118 degrees east longitude.

Vice Chairman Lu Chi-cheng (呂桔誠) of the Commission of National Corporations last month said that the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council has green-lighted the cooperative venture.

But Pan said he has so far not heard anything from the Executive Yuan and he is not sure when and where both sides will sign the deal.

Initial geophysical studies under a two-year contract signed in July 1996 across the strait had indicated possible rich oil and natural gas reserves in the area.

But the cooperation was halted in late 1996 after Taiwan imposed new controls on investment and trade links with China as tensions rose over then Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) mainland policies.

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