NEW YORK, March 24 - China's Ministry of Science and Technology has launched a program to study microbial genomics with the goal of improving organisms for oil extraction, according to a Saturday report from China's People's Daily.
According to the report, a ministry official said China could extract from six to ten percent more oil from its reserves if the program succeeds. The ministry expects the program to be completed between 2005 and 2010.
So far, researchers in the project have begun sequencing the genomes of two species of microbes that are able to metabolize heavy components and other impurities in the oil while producing gas that propels the oil out of the earth to ease extraction.
China imported 69.4 million tons of crude oil last year, according to the paper.