China's CNPC says to boost domestic crude output through more winter drilling

FILE PHOTO: The logo of CNPC (China National Petroleum Corporation) is pictured at the 26th World Gas Conference in Paris, France, June 2, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

BEIJING (Reuters) - Energy giant China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) will keep drilling through the winter at oilfields in the west of the country to boost domestic crude output, answering calls from Beijing to bolster the nation’s energy independence.

Some of CNPC’s oilfields in western Chinese regions such as Qinghai, Xinjiang and Shaanxi will not take their usual four-month winter break this year, CNPC’s official newspaper said on Thursday, citing a document from the firm’s oil engineering and services unit.

Fields in western China typically take such breaks due to harsh winter conditions that make drilling more difficult and expensive. More easterly fields tend to operate year-round.

“CNPC will need to take more forceful measure to boost domestic production as China stresses the importance of energy security,” the newspaper said. CNPC is the nation’s largest crude oil producer.

China has been pushing to curb its appetite for overseas energy supplies amid a tit-for-tat trade war with the United States.

A CNPC official told Reuters that the cost of oil engineering services had fallen to the lowest level in five years, helping make winter production economic.

China’s crude oil output climbed in August, ramped up after President Xi Jinping called for a boost to national energy security. Prior to that, output had seen nearly three years of decline.

CNPC’s engineering unit, China Petroleum Engineering Corp, will carry out an additional 2 million meters of drilling from November to February, CNPC said via the newspaper.

Reporting by Meng Meng and Aizhu Chen; Editing by Joseph Radford