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Image courtesy of CNOOC

The state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation has started  for oil and gas exploration in Iceland’s offshore Dreki Area, Platts reported.

CNOOC becomes the first Chinese upstream company to explore for oil and gas in the Arctic.

Iceland’s national energy authority Orkustofnun granted CNOOC and its partners — Icelandic Eykon Energy and Norwegian oil and gas company Petoro — an exploration license for the Dreki Area in late January.

CNOOC holds a 60% interest. Eykon and Petoro hold 15% and 25% stake respectively.

“CNOOC has an extensive exploration program this year and plans to drill roughly 155 exploration wells, and acquire approximately 26,700 km of 2-D seismic data and 19,400 sq km of 3-D seismic data,” Platts said.

CNOOC is China’s biggest offshore oil and gas producer.

Last year it ranked 93rd on the Fortune Global 500 and 33rd on Petroleum Intelligence Weekly’s World Top 50 Oil Companies.

The company’s current global production target is 422 million-435 million barrels of oil equivalent, Platts said.