China, Liberia Sign Offshore Oil Exploration MOU -Official

BEIJING, Nov 4, 2006 (Dow Jones Newswires)

China and Liberia have signed a memorandum of understanding for Chinese engineers to explore for offshore oil in the West African country, a Liberian official said Saturday.

"Chinese investment is needed because we have destroyed everything (in the civil war)," said George Wallace, foreign minister of Liberia.

On Friday, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said China was giving Liberia a $5 million grant for a use yet to be decided.

Liberia and China also signed four memoranda of understanding, two of which covered possible mineral and oil exploration ventures, she said.

One of the MOUs was for cooperating on the development of a free trade zone at the Atlantic Ocean port of Buchanan, Wallace said.

Wallace didn't specify which Chinese firms would be exploring for offshore oil or developing the port.

In March, Liberia granted China market economy status, allowing easier access for Chinese exports to the West African nation.

Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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