China recently announced the signing of new oil contracts with North Sudan to expand the areas of the country under exploration, reported the Sudan Tribune. The new regions to be explored include Red Sea, Sinnar, and West Kordofan.

Sudanese oil and gas minister Mohamed Zayed Awad confirmed that China has agreed to embark on new oil explorations and to expand its oil operations in Sudan.

“China will start gas production in zone 15 in the Red Sea, in zone 4, known as Baleela field, and zone 6 north of Heglig in West Kordofan State, as well as zone 8 in Souki in the east of Sinnar State,” Awad stated.

China Daily noted that the Sinnar region is already being exploited for natural gas. Current production rates are around 3.7 mcf/d. Reserves of the region are pegged at 25 bcf.

Few energy firms have freedom to operate in Sudan, as the country is currently under US and international sanctions due to human rights abuses and alleged war crimes.

China is the largest foreign investor in the troubled country.