Eastman Christensen, a Salt Lake-based supplier of drilling products and services to the oil industry, has started a new 50-50 joint-venture company in the People's Republic of China.

Located in Chengdu in the province of Sichuan, ChuanShi Christensen Diamond Bit Co. Ltd. was officially opened during a ceremony. The start-up culminated five years of negotiation and planning between Eastman Christensen, the Sichuan Petroleum Administration and China's Ministry of Petroleum Industry.Company officials believe their operation is the only oil service joint-venture company of its kind established in the People's Republic of China. The company is governed by a board of directors with equal representation from the U.S. and Chinese partners.

The new 40,000-square-foot facility will have 50 employees to operate modern equipment for the manufacture and servicing of diamond drilling bits including natural and polycrystalline synthetic diamond types.

Construction of the plant began in mid-1987 with most of the equipment made in Eastman Christensen's facility in Celle, West Germany. Manufacturing technology and training was provided by the company's Salt Lake City operation.