BEIJING, (APP): PetroChina’s oil and gas trading arm aims to buy petrol stations and fuel storage facilities, setting up business in Pakistan, West Africa and Brazil in a major global expansion aimed at taking on international rivals, according to three senior oil industry executives briefed on the plans.
The ambitious drive at one of the world’s top oil merchants is taking shape eight months after Tian Jinghui, a vice-president at PetroChina, took over the reins at Chinaoil, PetroChina’s trading vehicle.
Tian is a veteran of fuel marketing at PetroChina, a listed unit of State giant CNPC and Asia’s largest oil and gas producer, China Daily reported on Wednesday.
Analysts believe the aim of PetroChina is to have a foothold in emerging markets and grow market share locally.
Li Li, energy research director at ICIS China, a consulting company providing energy market analysis, said the business expansion in Pakistan, West Africa and Brazil is in accordance with the country’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The expansion is also aimed at tapping the transportation fuel market in those regions, where demand is growing faster than the global average, the executives said on condition of anonymity.
The new investments are expected to start as soon as next year and mimic the moves the world’s top oil merchants Vitol and Trafigura have made recently – spending billions to buy up thousands of petrol stations in Pakistan, Turkey and Africa.
“However, there are possible risks and challenges in setting up business abroad, considering different various economic, political, social and policy risks,” ICIS China’s Li said.
Li quoted the case of another oil major Sinopec, which failed to buy Chevron’s South African and Botswana assets despite reaching a deal with local investors.
Commodities trader and miner Glencore replaced China’s Sinopec as the buyer of Chevron’s South African and Botswana assets in October, including a 100,000 barrel-per-day oil refinery in Cape Town, a lubricants plant in Durban as well as 820 petrol stations and other oil storage facilities. It also includes 220 convenience stores across South Africa and Botswana.
Young staff from PetroChina’s massive domestic marketing team were sent on a three-month English course earlier this year as candidates for potential new overseas postings, said two of the three people with knowledge of the plans.