PetroChina To Step Up Acquisition Hunt

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China National Petroleum Corp., the parent company of PetroChina, the country's largest oil producer, said it will increase its pace of acquisitions over the next five years to meet China's soaring oil demand. The company is most likely to pursue international acquisitions given declining production at domestic fields.

In 2010, PetroChina (PTR) said it would spend $60 billion on acquisitions over the next decade. Upon announcing its intent to pick up its pace of purchases over the next five years, the company did not say what assets or particular countries it would focus on. The company has made almost $7 billion in acquisitions in the past two years.

The International Energy Agency said Jan. 18 China?s oil consumption will increase by 4.8 percent this year to 9.79 million barrels a day, or about 485 million tons for the year, Bloomberg News reported. China's dependence on foreign sources of crude could rise to 60% by 2015, PetroChina said.

PetroChina acquired stakes in projects in Australia and Syria, among other countries last year after making its first North American purchase in Canada in 2009. Chinese companies bid for a record $39.6 billion of energy assets abroad in 2010, according to Bloomberg data.