BEIJING Aug 28 CNOOC, China's top offshore oil
producer, is looking to team up with foreign companies this year
to explore for oil and gas in another 26 blocks, including 22 in
the strategically important South China Sea, although an analyst
said none of these were in disputed territory.
The tender comes two months after China National Offshore
Oil Corp (CNOOC) invited international firms to bid for nine
blocks in the western part of the South China Sea, a move
Vietnam said was illegal as the blocks encroached on its
China at the time insisted the tender in June was in accord
with Chinese and international law and urged Vietnam not to
escalate the quarrel.
Huang Xinhua, a geologist at energy consultancy IHS, said
none of the latest blocks appeared to be in disputed areas.
One of the blocks is in the northern Bohai Bay, with three
in the East China Sea, 18 in the eastern part of the South China
Sea and four in the western South China Sea, the company said on
its website (www.cnooc.com.cn). They cover a total area of
73,754 square kilometres.
The three deep-water blocks in the east of the South China
Sea are at depths between 700 and 3,000 metres, it said, adding
that foreign firms have until Nov 30 to view data packages for
all the blocks tendered.
"The tender should be CNOOC's largest in terms of the number
of blocks offered since the 1990s, showing CNOOC really wants to
beef up its exploration in offshore China with the help of
international firms," said Huang.
CNOOC, parent of CNOOC Ltd , normally teams
with foreign firms to explore for oil and gas off Chinese
shores, but once a commercial find is made the firm holds the
right to take a 51 percent stake.
Beijing claims almost all the South China Sea, a body of
water believed to hold rich reserves of oil and gas and which
stretches from China to Indonesia and from Vietnam to the
Philippines. Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and
Malaysia claim parts of it.
For an analysis on China's South China Sea oil
(Reporting by Judy Hua and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Joseph