China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has won a 25-year oil and gas exploration and production licence from state energy giant Qatar Petroleum (QP).

Under the licence, which covers the 5.6-square-kilometre BC Block, the Chinese state-run firm will conduct seismic surveys of the area, drill exploration wells under QP’s supervision and produce oil and gas from the concession.

The Chinese company is planning a $100m exploration drilling campaign between 2009 and 2014, and will make further investment decisions after it has studied the results.

The award marks the first time Qatar has awarded an offshore exploration licence to a foreign firm, a trend that will continue in 2010 with more agreements, according to QP.