Report: China, Syria in Talks on Possible Joint Refinery Project

China's state-owned oil industry heavily investing abroad in hopes of securing energy supplies to fuel its booming economy.

BEIJING - Syria and China are discussing jointly building a U.S.$1 billion oil refinery in eastern Syria, state media reported Wednesday.

Syria's deputy premier for economic affairs, Abdullah al-Dardari, discussed the proposed refinery with Premier Wen Jiabao Tuesday during a visit to Beijing, the Xinhua News Agency and China Daily newspaper reported.

The China Daily quoted Syria's oil minister, Sufian Allawy, as saying a deal would be signed after a feasibility study is carried out.

China's state-owned oil industry has been investing heavily abroad in hopes of securing energy supplies to fuel its booming economy.

The refinery would have a daily capacity of 70,000 barrels of crude, according to the China Daily.

"The refinery would be financed by China's biggest state-owned oil company, the China National Petroleum Corp., and a Syrian petroleum company," Xinhua said, citing Dardari.

"Syria also wants to import Chinese technology to increase production at Syrian oil fields," Dardari said.

"Oil field cooperation is a crucial component (of cooperation) between Syria and China," Xinhua quoted Dardari as saying.

The Damascus government will invite Chinese companies to explore for oil in offshore fields totaling 5,000 square kilometers the China Daily said, citing Dardari.

CNPC and India's government-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. agreed in December 2005 to jointly pay U.S.$580 million for a stake in a Syrian oil company.