OIL giant Exxon Corp of the United States says three of its affiliates have signed business ventures aimed at expanding the group's exploration in China. The group also intends to build a manufacturing facility in Shanghai for a chemical component of biodegradable detergents, and to investigate the formation of a joint venture to make and market petroleum and petrochemical products. Exxon chairman Lee Raymond, who has been in China to meet government and industry leaders, said: 'Exxon is enthusiastic about our future in China. These agreements further strengthen the co-operation that exists between Exxon and the energy and petrochemical industries in this country.' Esso China, an affiliate of Exxon, signed exploration deals with China National Petroleum Corp for acreage in the Qaidam and Songliao basins. The Qaidam Basin contract gives Esso China the right to explore and develop the Dafengshan block, expanding Exxon's oil exploration interests in western China. The Qaidam Basin is 2,160 kilometres west of Beijing. The 2.9 million acre block is the second on-shore block in western China to be contracted by Esso China. The Songliao Basin contract gives Esso China the right to explore and develop underground levels already being exploited in the western and northern parts of the basin, adjacent to the Daqing oilfield 850 kilometres northeast of Beijing. Esso China plans to begin joint geographical and geo-physical evaluation work with mainland technical organisations upon approval by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation. In a separate agreement, Exxon Chemical Eastern has signed a letter of intent with SINOPEC Gaoqiao to build a plant to supply the domestic biodegradable detergent industry. The facility will be built in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai, adjacent to the existing SINOPEC Gaoqiao refinery/petrochemical complex. It will have initial capacity to produce 70,000 tonnes a year of normal paraffin and 72,000 tonnes a year of linear alkyl benzene. The plant is scheduled to come on-stream in 1998. Another letter of intent was signed by Esso China with SINOPEC Guangzhou to conduct a pre-feasibility study for a joint venture refinery expansion project and marketing co-operation. The proposed expansion programme will more than double the existing capacity of the SINOPEC Guangzhou Petrochemical Complex in Guangdong to about 240,000 barrels of crude oil a day.