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China s largest oil producer to tap Uzbek

BEIJING, October 21 – China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), the country\’s largest oil producer, said it had signed a deal to jointly explore an oil field in Uzbekistan with a local company.

CNPC will develop the Mingulak oil field, which has oil reserves of more than 30 million tonnes, with Uzbekistan\’s state oil company Uzbekneftegaz, the Chinese company said in a statement late Monday.

Annual production at the field is expected to reach two million tonnes, according to the company, the parent of PetroChina. It did not disclose any financial details.

The deal "will help meet Uzbekistan\’s demand for oil, and boost the development of China\’s natural gas upstream business and the Central Asia-China natural gas pipeline project", it said.

CNPC in January started building the pipeline, which will ship gas from Turkmenistan, through Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan, to western China\’s Xinjiang region, state-run Xinhua news agency said.

It is scheduled to start operation in 2009 with a transmission capacity of 30 billion cubic metres (1.1 trillion cubic feet) of gas a year, it added.

Energy-hungry China imported nearly 200 million tonnes of oil last year, up more than 10 percent from 2006, the state-run China Daily newspaper said Tuesday.

Imported oil accounted for 46 percent of the country\’s total consumption in 2007 and the figure is expected to rise to 66 percent in 2020, it said.

China mainly buys oil from the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific but is increasingly looking at Central Asian countries due to easier access and lower costs, the newspaper said.

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