BEIJING (Reuters) - China will invest 80 billion yuan ($13.07 billion) in oil and gas exploration in 2013, state media said on Sunday, as it tries to boost energy supplies reduce its dependence on energy imports.
Oil and gas investment in China has risen from 19 billion yuan in 2002 to 67.3 billion yuan in 2011, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing Ministry of Land and Resources figures.
More than 5 billion tons of petroleum reserves and 2.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas were discovered between 2008-2011, Xinhua said.
China, the world's biggest energy consuming country, has promised to cut its growing dependence on overseas oil and gas supplies.
Still, some analysts expect China to overtake the United States as the world's biggest crude oil importer as soon as 2017. Much of it comes from the Middle East and Africa and is transported via vulnerable sea lanes.
Gas imports are important to China because domestic production is not sufficient to meet growing demand. Imported gas is delivered via pipeline from Central Asia and by ship from countries such as Australia, Indonesia and Qatar.
China bought 42.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas from overseas last year. That was up more than 30 percent compared with 2011 and a nearly 10-fold increase from 2007.
Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Robert Birsel