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CNOOC to maintain oil, gas output in 2012

Updated: 2012-03-06 09:35

By Zhou Yan (China Daily)

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CNOOC to maintain oil, gas output in 2012
China National Offshore Oil Corp's newly built drilling platform in Yantai, Shandong province. CNOOC is likely to produce 340 million barrels of oil equivalent this year.[Photo/China Daily]

Company also plans to diversify into shale gas in North America

China National Offshore Oil Corp, the country's biggest offshore oil producer, intends to maintain its output of overseas gas and oil in 2011, a company executive said on Monday.

CNOOC plans to produce from 10 million to 13 million metric tons of those fuels in 2012, about the same as in the year before, Wang Yilin, chairman of the company, said on the sidelines of the opening ceremony for the annual National People's Congress on Monday, without elaborating.

CNOOC recently said its goal for the year is to produce from 330 million to 340 million barrels of oil equivalent, a unit of energy roughly equal to the energy that would be released by burning a barrel of oil. In 2011, the company produced between 331 million and 332 million barrels of oil equivalent, according to estimates.

Wang also said an oilfield that the company holds a 51 percent stake in, the Penglai 19-3 oilfield in Bohai Bay, is ready to begin operating again, although that won't happen without government approval. The country's maritime watchdog forced the offshore oilfield, the largest in China, to shut down in September following an oil spill.

Several months before, two leaks at the fields had released about 700 barrels of oil into the bay. The halt in operations led the company to reduce its annual output target from between 355 million and 364 million barrels of oil equivalent to about 331 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Authorities blamed the leaks mainly on the negligence of ConocoPhillips China, a subsidiary of US-based energy giant ConocoPhillips and the operator of the oilfield.

CNOOC announced plans in late December to establish an environmental protection fund, using 500 million yuan ($79.3 million) in initial capital for that purpose.

Wang, former vice-general manager of the country's biggest oil producer, China National Petroleum Corp, became the chairman of CNOOC in April, taking over for Fu Chengyu, who is now the chairman of China Petrochemical Corp, or Sinopec, the country's biggest refiner.

CNOOC also plans to invest more in shale-gas projects in North America to increase its reserves of that resource and obtain the technology needed for domestic exploration, Bloomberg quoted Wang as saying.

In January, CNOOC announced plans to purchase several shale gas and oil leases in the United States from the US-based Chesapeake Energy for $570 million. That followed the company's $1.08 billion purchase of one-third of Chesapeake's holdings in the Eagle Ford Shale, a site containing large deposits of gas and oil in Texas, in 2010.

The offshore oil producer moved into the domestic shale-gas industry when it drilled a shale well in Anhui province in conjunction with Sinopec in December, marking the company's first onshore exploration project.

Ministry of Land and Resources' figures show that China contains 25 trillion cu m of recoverable shale gas, meaning it has more of the resource than any other country in the world.

Even so, the country will not be able to produce the gas for commercial purposes without having the advanced technology needed for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, said Yu Haifeng, deputy director of the ministry's land-survey department.