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China's CNOOC Opens First Gas Station

China's third-largest oil company, CNOOC, says it has opened the first gas station of a planned chain, entering a market dominated by its bigger Chinese rivals.

Oil companies and others are racing to cash in on explosive growth in driving and automobile purchases in China.

CNOOC opened its first station this week in Huizhou, a city in Guangdong province in China's southeast, one of the country's most prosperous areas, the company said on its Web site. It said it has received approval to open 20 more stations in the city, home to one of its refineries.

CNOOC said earlier that it planned to open as many as 200 filling stations throughout China.

The retail gasoline market is dominated by China's biggest oil companies, PetroChina and Sinopec, each of which has chains of hundreds of filling stations throughout the country.