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, state media reported Tuesday.
In January, 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 China Daily said.
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.
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.
China imported 280 million tons of crude in 2013, up 4 percent year-on-year, according to the customs office. As the country's oil dependency on foreign supply continued to increase, reaching 58.1 percent in 2013.
China's domestic oil output remained flat at about 208 million tons. CNOOC announced in late January that the company's output in 2013 was 412 million barrels of oil equivalent, of which 69 million barrels came from its acquisition of Nexen Inc. It set its 2014 output target up to 435 million barrels with a year-on-year growth of 5.6 percent.
According to the report, the Arctic region has rich oil and gas resources with a proven reserve of 400 billion barrels of oil equivalent.