China, Taiwan Plan to Expand Cooperation on Oil Exploration

Taiwan's state-owned oil refiner CCP Corp. is expected to further its cooperation with the China-based Chinese National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) , which will expand the range of their oil exploration ventures to cover the northern continental areas of the South China Sea, Ministry of Economic Affairs officials said Tuesday.

The two sides reached a consensus on the issue in March during a visit to Beijing by CCP executives, and are likely to sign the relevant contract by the end of this year, the officials said.

Since 2003, the two companies have been jointly exploring oil and gas deposits in an area between the Tainan Basin and the Chaoshan Sub-basin, which covers a marine area of 15,400 square kilometres in the Taiwan Strait.

They are now seeking to expand this project to cover more than 30,000 square kilometers, to include the northern continental areas of the South China Sea.

Under another project launched in April, the two sides are jointly studying the prospects of exploring the Nanri Dao Basin in the Taiwan Strait, between China's Fujian province and Taiwan's Hsinchu City.

They are expected to decide in six months time whether to sign an oil exploration contract, MOEA officials said.

Also during their visit to Beijing in March, CCP officials raised the possibility of the two companies exploring areas near the disputed Tiaoyutai islands, but that plan is still in the incubation stage, sources said.

BBC Monitoring. Copyright BBC.