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David Fickling

Even $45 Billion Can’t Keep PetroChina’s Wells Gushing

The state giant is paying a prohibitive price to raise production from oilfields that appear to be in terminal decline.

Sunset for China’s oilfields.

Sunset for China’s oilfields.

Photographer: Servais Mont/Getty Images

It’s remarkable what a little money can do. 

Faced with a declining reserve base and a government mandate to increase domestic production, PetroChina went on a spending splurge last year. Its 256 billion yuan ($38 billion) in capital expenditures in 2018 was more than was spent by BP Plc, Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips put together.