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Taiwan once wary about oil drilling cooperation with China: Wikileaks

ROC Central News Agency

2011/08/24 23:14:15

By Emmanuelle Tzeng and Sofia Wu

Taipei, Aug. 24 (CNA) Taiwan once worried about the possible threat to national security in cooperating with China to explore oil reserves in the Taiwan Strait, according to cables released by Wikileaks.

The whistleblowing website also revealed that even though Taiwan-China oil drilling cooperation has proceeded generally smoothly, Taiwanese technicians' visa applications were rejected due to China's pressure when they tried to negotiate oil exploration deals with Angola.

Wikileaks has posted 44 Taiwan-related stories in the past two days. A cable issued by the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) mentioned that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait were collaborating in prospecting for oil in the strait that separate them.

The AIT, a quasi-official U.S. organization authorized to handle relations with Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, classified the file, dated June 12, 2007, as "for official use only," Wikileaks said.

Citing the cable, Wikileaks said both Taiwan and China were actively seeking new energy sources and were cooperating in exploring oil resources in the Taiwan Strait.

Noting that Taiwan was dependent on imports for 98 percent of its energy needs, the AIT cable said Taiwan hoped its oil and natural gas stockpiles could be doubled in five years to help cushion the impact of skyrocketing crude oil prices. Therefore, Taiwan planned to triple its oil exploration investment by 2010 to reach NT$10 billion (US$344.83 million).

The cable cited John Hsu, a division chief in charge of overseas operations at Taiwan's state-run oil refiner CPC Corp., Taiwan as revealing that cooperating with China in oil exploration in the Taiwan Strait was mainly aimed at reducing risks.

Taiwan has invested in oil prospecting ventures in Venezuela, Ecuador, Indonesia, Australia and the United States, according to the AIT cable.

The file mentioned that CPC Corp., Taiwan signed an agreement with Beijing-based China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) in 2002 to set up a joint-venture, named Tainan-Chaoshan Petroleum Operation Co., to prospect for oil resources in the Taiwan Strait. The venture was registered in the British Virgin Islands and its profits were equally shared by both sides.

The cable cited CPC Corp. officials as saying that the first drilling location was closer to the mainland coast, where no oil resources were hit. The second location was closer to the Taiwan coast and the drilling was scheduled to start in late 2007 and that the area was estimated to have 6 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves.

They were cited as having told the AIT that Taiwan's government was once reserved about the cross-strait cooperative project over national security concerns.

The CPC officials also told the AIT that Angola had denied visas to the company's technicians under China's pressure when they were planning to visit the African country to discuss an oil drilling cooperation.

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