Red chip CNPC (Hong Kong) yesterday confirmed it was considering investing in Thailand's Sirikit oil field. The listed arm of China National Petroleum Corp, which holds a virtual monopoly over mainland on-shore oil exploration and development, said it had not yet decided to invest in the oil field and no binding commitment had been entered into. CNPC (Hong Kong) executive director Xu Xiaolu said yesterday the firm was interested in the Thai oil field and was conducting a preliminary review of it. The company announcement was made at the behest of the stock exchange following a press report on the proposed investment by the company. CNPC (Hong Kong) had reportedly made a preliminary bid for an 80 per cent stake in the central Thai oil field, worth an estimated US$300 million. The stake was originally held by Royal Dutch/Shell Group which announced its retreat from oil exploration to focus on refining, thus inviting bids to take up its stake. The remaining 20 per cent stake in the oil field is held by the National Petroleum Co of Thailand. CNPC (Hong Kong) would reserve its decision as to whether to bid for the oil field until June 29 - the deadline for submitting bids, it was reported. The Sirikit oil field produces about 2,100 barrels a day. It has reserves of about 102 million barrels of oil and 5.3 billion cubic metres of natural gas. In December, the company bought a 70 per cent stake in a production-sharing interest in Leng Jiapu oil field in northeastern China, and contributed $65.5 million to the cost of development operations in the first two years. The deal is expected to be completed later this year. Earlier this year, company chairman Zhang Ruchun said it was studying new potential investments, locally and abroad, including in Kazakhstan. CNPC (Hong Kong) has said it should not be affected by its mainland parent's move to cut crude oil production about 5 per cent - in line with other global producers - to maintain steady oil prices. The company's projects in Liaohe and Karamay, which were included in its plans to cut production, were relatively independent from the remainder of its parent's oilfields.