The Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources plans to spin off its oil prospecting and exploration department to create China's third national oil company. Minister Song Ruixiang yesterday said the new company would operate in competition with China National Petroleum Corp and China National Offshore Oil Corp. The move would enhance efficiency and competition in the national oil industry, Mr Song said. Mr Song did not reveal when the new company would be launched, provide details of its business scope, or if it would work with foreign companies to explore and exploit China's oil and gas. Industry analysts predicted that much of the new company's activities would be concentrated on the Tarim Basin in the Xinjiang region.