China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China's largest oil producer, has entered into two cooperative contracts with Uzbekistan, in Central Asia.
The company's in-house journal has announced the ratification of a production-sharing agreement on Wednesday with Uzbekistan's Uzbekneftegaz, Russia's Lukoil, Malaysia's Petronas and South Korea's National Oil Corporation to explore and develop prospective natural gas deposits in the Aral Sea.
The contract was signed after CNPC received exploration permission in five onshore blocks in Uzbekistan nearly ten days ago.
The launch of the two projects brings the countries receiving investment from CNPC to 24.
Uzbekistan claims a 10,000-square-km area in the Aral Sea, which is considered to have great oil and gas reserves.
The partners plan to collect seismic data and drill two wildcat wells in the first three years. Then they will establish a joint venture to carry out exploration work, said CNPC.
Uzbekistan has oil reserves of more than five billion tons and natural gas reserves exceeding five trillion cubic meters. Its proven oil reserve is 530 million tons and natural gas, 3.4 trillion cubic meters.
CNPC signed oil and gas cooperation contracts with Uzbekneftegaz during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Uzbekistan in June 2004.
The two companies signed the exploration agreements for the five onshore blocks in June this year, under which they will collect two- and three-dimensional seismic data and drill 27 wells in the 34,000 square-km area in five years.
The two projects would avail CNPC of a gradual exploration of the country and contain potential for oil and gas discoveries of good commercial scale, said the company.