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Shanghai Daily: China hails massive oil find

TO roll out the barrel is a traditional celebratory term – and China is certainly doing that.

The country’s newly found oil field in Bohai Bay has a reserve of one billion tons, or about 7.35 billion barrels, the largest discovery in the nation for more than four decades, the China National Petroleum Corporation announced yesterday.

Premier Wen Jiabao said he was very excited to learn about the new oil discovery and expressed his congratulation to workers as he showed up at the drill platform on the Labor Day holiday.

The new oil field is in the Nanpu block of the CNPC’s Jidong facility in Caofeidian in Tangshan City, northern Hebei Province, said the company, the nation’s biggest oil producer.

The Nanpu block, partly offshore, covers an area of 1,300 to 1,500 square kilometers and is expected to produce light crude.

By 2004, the CNPC had discovered five onshore oil fields in the Jidong area with a total reserve of 735 million barrels and an annual output of 7.35 million barrels.

The company previously estimated that the reserve of the new oil field was 2.2 billion barrels and the daily output would be 200,800 barrels in three years.

“More new reserves can probably be found with the further exploration and more oil production can be expected,” said Jia Chengzao, an academician and geologist with the China Academy of Sciences.

PetroChina, the CNPC’s holding company, had Asia’s highest profitability last year with 142.2 billion yuan (US$18.5 billion) in annual net profit. China’s oil dependency, or net oil imports against oil consumption, went up 4.1 percentage points year on year to 47 percent in 2006, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

As a result, China is encouraging its oil companies to step up efforts to drill off the country’s coast and in the remote deserts of Xinjiang in the west.

Last year, the nation produced 183.68 million tons of crude oil, up 1.7 percent, and imported 138.84 million tons, up 16.9 percent.

Its oil consumption (crude plus oil products) amounted to 346.55 million tons, up 9.3 percent.

It is predicted that China’s crude oil imports will reach 160 million tons.

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