BP hopes to drill new S.China Sea gas block this yr

BEIJING, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Oil giant BP Plc plans to start drilling at the 43/11 deepwater block in the South China Sea this year, after receiving approval recently from the Chinese government, a company executive said on Wednesday.

“When we start depends on many factors, such as whether the drilling rig is ready. We hope to start drilling there by the end of the year.” BP China President Chen Liming told Reuters.

BP received approval from the commerce ministry last week to explore and develop natural gas resources at deepwater block 43/11, together with China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) and Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

During the exploration phase, BP will have a 40.82 percent working interest, Anadarko 50 percent and CNOOC 9.18 percent. During development and production, CNOOC will be operator with a 55.5 percent interest, BP with 20 percent and Anadarko will have 24.5 percent, according to BP China.

BP and CNOOC signed a cooperation agreement for deepwater exploration of block 43/11 in January last year, during Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Britain.

BP’s other upstream assets in China include the under-producing gas field Yacheng 13-1 in the South China Sea, and deepwater block 42/05, in which BP purchased an intertest in September 2010, according to the company’s website.