22 March 2010 (Upstreamonline.com )
PetroChina will be targeting Iraq and Iran and is looking to focus on five projects — the Ahdab, Rumaila and Halfaya oilfields in Iraq, and the North Azadegan and Masjed-i-Suleiman fields in Iran.
Company chairman Jiang Jiemin said entering the Middle East market had been the ambition of several generations of Chinese oilmen, given the region’s importance in the oil and gas industry.
PetroChina and Iraqi officials met in Abu Dhabi in January to discuss the development of three Iraqi oil and gas fields, which have given PetroChina access to total estimated reserves of more than 20 billion barrels.
Jiang said the development of Halfaya will start in the second of half of this year. The company now owns a 37.5% stake, with French giant Total and Malaysia’s Petronas each holding a 18.75% stake and the 25% balance held by Iraq’s South Oil Company.
Meanwhile, PetroChina has started drilling at Iran’s South Pars gas project to evaluate the reserves for the field’s Phase 11 development, though limited access to key liquefying gas technologies due to US sanctions is proving problematic.
The new initiative is part of the company’s long-term strategy to triple its foreign hydrocarbon production to 200 million tonnes of oil and gas equivalent by 2015 or beyond. A similar volume will be also produced from PetroChina’s domestic fields.
Last year, Chinese companies produced a total of 110 million tonnes of oil and gas equivalent, 50% of which was equity oil from increased acquisitions of foreign upstream assets.
Last year, China concluded 11 foreign acquisition deals out of 13 proposed, worth a total of $16 billion, according to PetroChina deputy chief economist Li Jianzhong.
PetroChina’s production hit a record 69.6 million tonnes of oil and 8.2 billion cubic metres of natural gas last year — an increase from 2008 of 12% and 22%, respectively.
However, the company has seen production from its major fields such as Daqing and Liaohe fall in recent years after reaching a production plateau a few years ago.