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China's CNPC Unveils Overseas Expansion Plan

China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the country's largest oil group, announced plans Jan. 17 to double its overseas business volume by 2010 as part of an ambitious growth strategy. CNPC, the parent company of Hong Kong-listed PetroChina, aims to pump at least 80 million metric tons of oil and gas annually by 2010 from overseas fields, the company said in a statement. The Beijing-based group also wants to build five overseas production zones, each with an output of at least 10 million metric tons a year, by 2010.

Last year CNPC formed a joint venture with PetroChina to hold overseas assets, helping it sign deals worth billions of U.S. dollars either alone or with domestic and foreign companies in Equador, Syria and Kazakhstan. CNPC bought Canadian-listed PetroKazakhstan, the central Asian country's third-largest oil producer, for 4.18 billion dollars in August.

CNPC also wants to build two 12-billion-yuan (US$1.48-billion) pipelines to provide oil and gas from Russia and Kazakhstan to the center of the country. The just submitted proposal, which needs government approval, aims to link the Sino-Kazhakstan pipeline to central China. The 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) pipeline currently links Atasu in central Kazakhstan to Alashanku in western China's Xinjiang province. Deliveries are expected to start in mid-2006, with an initial annual capacity of 10 million tons, but China wants the line to now be extended to Zhengzhou in central Henan province. Eventually it would also link Hunan province, which is further south, according to Zhu Shihou, a director from the energy department of Henan's Development and Reform Commission.

The other plan on the drawing board is to link Jinzhou city in Liaoning province in the country's northeast and Wuhan city in central Hubei province via Henans Zhengzhou. That line would pipe eight million tons of oil from resource rich Russia. Russia announced this month it would begin construction later this year on its multi-billion-dollar trans-Siberian pipeline, which will supply both China and Japan.

China is racing to secure resources abroad to power its booming economy and Beijing has ordered its three big state oil companies to acquire foreign assets.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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