Drilling Halted Offshore Taiwan due to SARS

CNOOC Ltd. and Taiwan's Chinese Petroleum Corp. have halted their joint offshore exploration project in the Tainan block located in the Taiwan Straits due to the outbreak of SARS in China and Taiwan. "The SARS situation is still quite serious... There is no hurry to continue our offshore oil cooperation," said a CPC spokesman.

The spokesman said CPC has decided to cancel a meeting by a joint committee of the two companies, which was scheduled to take place in Beijing in early May, to discuss drilling operations at the block. CPC has decided to restrict any exchange between employees from the company and CNOOC until SARS is brought under control. "It is unlikely we will resume operations before SARS is under control," he said. He said CPC is concerned that technical personnel may get infected if they travel to the mainland for meetings and discussions.

Last year the two companies signed an exploration agreement in the Tainan Block.