|China National Offshore Oil Corp workers move cables on an offshore oil drilling platform. In January, Iceland's energy authority granted CNOOC and its partners a new exploration license. (China Daily / Yu Fangping)|
Energy giant accelerates search for foreign supply
China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), the country's largest offshore oil and gas developer, has become the first Chinese firm licensed to look for oil in the Arctic, a landmark step for overseas energy exploration for the world's second-largest economy.
CNOOC has partnered with Iceland's Eykon Energy in an application for a license to explore oil and gas resources in Arctic waters since last June.
On Jan 22, Iceland's national energy authority, Orkustofnun, granted the new offshore license to the Chinese company as an operator with a 60 percent share, to Eykon Energy with a 15 percent share and to Petoro Iceland AS with a 25 percent share, the company told China Daily on Thursday.
As global fuel consumption increases, international oil and gas players are actively seeking large-scale untapped resources to replace the North Sea oil production region.
Based on CNOOC's expertise in deepwater oil exploration, it has been accelerating steps in foreign offshore oil and gas businesses, including the largest-ever acquisition of Nexen Inc in the energy sector.
"The permission that CNOOC got from the Iceland government proves the Chinese energy companies' upstream exploration competence," said Guo Haitao, associate dean of the School of Business Administration with the China University of Petroleum.
He said the project is still in its initial stages and will not affect China's oil and gas supply in the short run, but it will raise the country's energy exploration technology level as well as ensure supply through diversified resources in the long term.
China imported 280 million tons of crude in 2013, up 4 percent year-on-year, according to the customs office.