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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
China finds oil in Tibet
Man sitting on railway line
Development plans for Tibet include the world's highest railway
Chinese geologists are reported to have discovered a vast oil deposit in a remote part of northern Tibet.

The oil deposit in the Qiangtan Basin extends over 100 kilometres (60 miles) and may hold as much as 100 million tonnes of oil, according the official Xinhua news agency.

The Chinese government has ambitious plans for Tibet, which include developing five airports and building a railway linking the mountainous region to the outside world.

Earlier this year, the Chinese government pledged to spend $3.8bn (2.6bn, 4.1bn euros) to complete more than 100 construction projects in Tibet.

Oil extraction in Tibet's mountains is likely to attract criticism from environmentalists and human rights activists.

Protests

Both BP and Royal Dutch Shell took stakes in China's national oil giants when PetroChina and Sinopec floated on the international stock markets in 2000.

BP faced calls to disinvest its 2.2% stake in PetroChina at its April shareholders' meeting because of human rights concerns about a pipeline in Tibet.


Big development projects already underway in Tibet include the 1,000km (600miles) railway line from the city of Golmud, in China's Qinghai province, to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, which could cost at least $3bn to build.

For much of its length, the line will run 4,000m above sea-level, posing formidable engineering problems from permafrost and the mountainous route.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Duncan Hewitt reports
"China is anxious to increase oil production"
See also:

29 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
China lays Tibet railtrack
09 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
China plans Tibet railway
23 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
China 'beating' Tibet separatism
07 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
World Bank rejects Tibet land plan
23 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Dalai Lama: Spiritual leader in exile
23 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Tibet anniversary: Contrasting views
23 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Tibet: Flashback to the Chinese 'deal'
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