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China's offshore oil industry was the first field that opened to the world after China's reform and opening policy began. On 30 January 1982, the Chinese State Council promulgated Regulations of the People's Republic of China Concerning the Exploitation of Offshore Petroleum Resources in Cooperation with Overseas Partners (Regulations) and decided to establish the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, legislatively granting China National Offshore Oil Corporation an exclusive right of conducting oil exploration, development, production and selling and completely taking charge of the business of exploiting oil resources in cooperation with overseas partners offshore from China. On 15 February 1982, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) was formally established in Beijing. From its very inception, CNOOC, as China's window to the outside world and a national oil corporation, has shouldered the important task of cooperating with overseas partners and developing Chinese offshore oil.

Since its foundation, CNOOC's yearly oil production has risen greatly from less than 100,000 tons to 64.93 million tons (oil equivalent) in 2010. In the 1990s, CNOOC initiated downstream petrochemical and fertilizer projects and began its overseas expansion.  

The Chinese offshore oil industry started at the end of 1950s and offshore oil exploration began in the South China Sea. After 1965, the exploration focus was diverted to Bohai Bay in the north. In the early period, oil and gas discovery wells were obtained in the two sea areas mentioned above by using self-made crude equipment. From 1966 to 1972, a total of 4 fixed drilling platforms were built, 14 wells drilled and 3 oil-bearing structures were discovered in Bohai Bay, all of which helped to accumalate abundant experience for offshore oil exploration.

After 1973, the equipment began to be renewed, and a supply of jack-up vessels, three-purpose workboats (towing, weighing anchor and casting anchor, supply), and geophysical survey vessels were built in China. Methods were introduced from abroad for conducting exploration and development tests in Bohai Bay.

From 1957 until the exploration and development of offshore oil in cooperation with overseas partners, and in over 20 years of making intensive and pioneering efforts to develop China's offshore oil, the petroleum and geology units conducted gravitational prospecting, magnetic prospecting and part of seismic reconnaissance in the sea areas such as the South China Sea, Bohai Bay, the Yellow Sea and so on. The units affiliated with the Ministry of Petroleum Industry drilled 110 wells in Bohai Bay, Beibu Gulf of the South China Sea and the sea areas near Hainan Island, and industrial hydrocarbon flows were obtained in 30 wells; 3 small oil and gas fields were developed. The intensive pioneering efforts made in the early period of the Chinese offshore oil industry have resulted in considerable valuable wealth and a solid foundation, encouraging later generations to continuously strive for an ongoing successful future of the business.

A story of rapid growth

The foundation of CNOOC in 1982 signified that China's offshore oil industry had entered a new development period. In February 1982 the China National Offshore Oil Industry was established, and Qin Wencai, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Petroleum Industry, was appointed as President. In March 1982 Bohai Oil Corporation was established in Tanggu of the Tianjin-based Offshore Oil Exploration Bureau of the Ministry of Petroleum Industry.

In June 1982 the Nanhai East Oil Corporation was founded in Guangzhou and the Nanhai West Oil Corporation was founded in Zhanjiang with its base at the Nanhai Oil Exploration Headquarters of the Ministry of Petroleum Industry. In July 1982 the Nanhuanghai Oil Corporation was established in Shanghai. After their foundation, the four local corporations under CNOOC took charge of oil and gas exploration and development in their respective sea areas.

From CNOOC's foundation to the present, it has been blessed with seven leader groups. The five successive presidents are Qin Wencai, Zhong Yiming, Wang Yan, Wei Liucheng and Fu Chengyu. On April 8, 2011, the Board of Directors was established in CNOOC. Wang Yilin was appointed Chairman of the Board of CNOOC; Yang Hua was appointed President of CNOOC. In April 2015, Yang Hua was appointed Chairman of the Board of CNOOC; in August 2015, Liu Jian was appointed President of CNOOC.

The first leader group established the mode of cooperation with overseas partners, participated in the drafting of the Regulations of the People's Republic of China Concerning the Exploitation of Offshore Petroleum Resources in Cooperation with Overseas Partners, successfully initiated the international invitation for bids and opened a new era of offshore oil cooperation with overseas partners under the leadership of Vice Premier Kang Shien and the leaders of the Ministry of Petroleum Industry.

The second leader group adopted the principle of simultaneously conducting cooperation with overseas partners and self-operation, conducted research on downstream petrochemical projects, maintained the lean staff and reformed the structure of business units.

The third leader group established the system of the Oil Corporation, initiated downstream projects, established and implemented trans-global strategic objectives and under this group's guidance the high-speed and high-efficiency development of China offshore oil began to take shape.

In order to enhance the corporation's international competitive edge in the 21st century, the fourth leader group based CNOOC upon long-term development, began the implementation of a capital operation strategy from 1999, conducted a large-scale enterprise reorganization, and successfully entered the international capital market through the public listing of its oil and gas assets in New York and Hong Kong stock markets.

The fifth leader group has continued on the course of quality and fast development with its own characteristics, realizing promotion of both the upstream and the mid and downstream businesses. In 2010, CNOOC's yearly oil and gas output offshore China exceeded 50 million tons for the first time.

Since 2011, CNOOC has set for new leapfrog development under the guidance of the sixth leader group. The Company steadily holds to the scientific concept of development and accelerates the improving in the economic development mode, while fully undertaking the responsibilities of a corporate citizen. 30 years have witnessed CNOOC growing from an independent oil company into an integrated energy company engaged in exploring deepwater fields and expanding into the global market. Under the guidance of the scientific concept of development, the Company is making headway towards its objective of being a world-class energy company.


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