China's largest oil and gas producer has shut down six major projects in war-torn Libya, Syria and other restive nations because of political instability, state media said Tuesday.
The decision came as Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime appeared close to collapse after rebels took over the capital Tripoli, and as other countries in the Middle East and Africa experienced bouts of unrest.
The projects in Libya, Niger, Syria and Algeria were run by Great Wall Drilling Co (GWDC), a subsidiary of the state-owned giant China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the Beijing Times newspaper reported.
Quoting company insiders, it said the exploration projects had been terminated due to "political instability" and to "protect the staff's safety."
The report did not detail what these projects were, but said the termination would cause 1.2 billion yuan ($188 million) in lost revenue for GWDC.
A CNPC spokesman told AFP he had no knowledge of the project terminations.
China is always on the look-out for natural resources around the world to fuel its fast-growing economy.
But the state-run Beijing Times said experts had warned Chinese companies to be cautious about investing in politically turbulent areas, citing the risks involved.
Syria is in the midst of a crackdown on dissent that has cost more than 2,200 lives, while Niger has a history of military coups, and Algeria is prone to deadly attacks by militant groups.