Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Majors Eye Tarim Field Exploration

SHANGHAI -- Shell, Chevron and Gazprom may bid for oil exploration rights in the Tarim region of northwestern China in partnership with PetroChina, officials at the Chinese company said.

Ten foreign companies have finished reading documents on 13 exploration areas offered by PetroChina last year, said two officials at PetroChina Tarim Oilfield, who asked not to be identified before formal bids are received.

PetroChina, Asia's largest company, wants foreign partners in Tarim as it tries to extract oil and gas from potential deposits buried miles under China's western deserts.

The explorer is scouring the region for new fields as reserves in the country's northeast run dry and energy demand surges.

"PetroChina really needs to find new resources to accelerate their output growth," Duncan Chan, a Hong Kong-based analyst with Everbright Securities, said by telephone on Monday.

"Wherever there is oil resource, oil companies will go there."

PetroChina's parent, China National Petroleum Corp., has invited bids for 12 exploration areas in Tarim, Sun Tairong, a director at PetroChina Tarim Oilfield, told reporters Oct. 10. PetroChina is adding one area to the 12 that were originally offered in October.

Total, Statoil and Newfield Exploration have also sought details on Tarim's oil and gas areas, said the two PetroChina officials.

"We are still studying this and haven't made a decision whether to make a formal bid in Tarim or not," Li Jingjing, Statoil's Beijing based spokeswoman, said Tuesday. "It is still at an initial stage."

The 560,000-square-kilometer Tarim basin has 520 million tons of proven oil reserves, enough to supply China for 1 1/2 years, and 724.1 billion cubic meters of gas, enough for 12 years, based on present consumption, Sun Longde, president of PetroChina Tarim, told reporters in the Xinjiang city of Kolar on Nov. 8.