Taiwan's Chinese Petroleum (CPC) and China National Offshore Oil (CNOOC) are in talks to resume a co-operative exploration agreement in the Taiwan Strait. Both sides have reached a broad agreement on the creation of a joint venture, to be set up in a neutral territory, that would conduct test drilling in the most promising of the areas previously surveyed, one CPC official said. "Since we are both state firms, we both need to get government approval," the official said, adding that this was not expected to be difficult for the Taiwanese company. "The government's attitude is basically supportive."
While Taipei has previously backed CPC-CNOOC co-operation, test drilling could also still be delayed. CPC officials said the previous agreement signed in 1996 was given final approval only in 1998. Oil industry observers have also said that exploration all but ceased after cross-Strait ties cooled in 1999.