Report: China’s state-owned oil companies have ‘high degree of independence’

The report finds that growing Chinese oil companies’ investments in production projects worldwide “have, for the most part, helped to increase global supplies of oil and gas via the same international market that other importers rely on.”

IEA notes that the three big Chinese state companies — China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) and China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) — have in recent years emerged as “significant players” in international oil deals.

“Chinese oil companies are now operating in 31 countries and have equity production in 20 of these countries, though their equity shares are mostly located in four countries: Kazakhstan, Sudan, Venezuela and Angola. No evidence suggests that the Chinese government currently imposes a quota on the NOCs regarding the amount of their equity oil that they must ship to China,” the report notes, adding that decisions about where to send oil are “based mainly on commercial considerations.”

Since the beginning of 2009, the big three Chinese companies, along with smaller Chinese firms, have spent over $47 billion to acquire oil-and-gas assets worldwide, the report notes.

CNOOC ran into a political buzzsaw in the U.S. in 2005, when it launched an unsuccessful $18.5 billion bid for Unocal, a California-based multinational oil-and-gas corporation. The proposed deal prompted Capitol Hill allegations about energy-hungry China locking down worldwide petroleum reserves. CNOOC ultimately abandoned the effort and Unocal was instead purchased by Chevron Corp.