Tag Archives: Energy

China’s Oil Production Outside China To Rival Kuwait and Mexico’s

While it is no secret that China’s state-owned oil giants, CNPC, Sinopec and CNOOC, have been on a buying spree of overseas assets over the past three or four years, not much consideration has been given outside the industry to what that means in production terms. Now the International Energy Agency (IES) has done just that. And it is eye opening.

The IEA estimates that by 2015 China will be producing 3 million barrels of oil a day outside its borders, twice what it produces today. Quite what that means is well illustrated by some comparisons. Three million barrels per day is roughly what the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Kuwait each now produce. They are currently the world’s eighth, ninth and tenth largest producers. It would be comfortably more than Brazil, Nigeria and Venezuela’s output. They are the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth largest producers. It would also be three quarters of the way to what China already produces; China is the world’s fifth biggest oil producing nation.

This ranking hasn’t come cheap. The M&A consultancy Dealogic (via the Financial Times) says that China’s state oil companies have spent $92 billion since the start of 2009 on oil and gas assets in countries from Angola to the U.S.  There is little to suggest that number won’t pass the $100 billion mark sometime later this year as they continue to buy oil and gas in the ground, be it under water or shale, and the expertise to get it out.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Energy

China Seeks Compensation For War-Damaged Libyan Projects

The hopes of Chinese civil engineering firms that they would be able to return to abandoned construction projects in Libya appear to have been dashed for now. Commerce minister Chen Deming says it is too dangerous to return, and that China is seeking compensation from the new government in Tripoli, particularly for housing projects worth more than $10 billion that were completed or close to completion but suffered heavy artillery damage during the fighting.

Before the civil war that overthrew the Gaddafi regime started in February, 2011, some 75 Chinese companies, including 13 large state owned enterprises, were working on $19 billion worth of projects, mainly in oil services, railways, housing construction and telecoms. Evacuating more than 35,000 Chinese nationals from these in March last year was a source of some pride in Beijing. (A similar, though more-low profile and pre-emptive evacuation of Chinese workers in Syria is now underway, with 100 or so being left in the country to secure Chinese engineering projects as far as they can, and so minimize the sort of damage suffered in Libya.)

Chen’s comments about Libya followed the visit of an inspection team from his ministry that arrived in Tripoli earlier this month to assess the extent of the damage, and the prospects for Chinese engineering companies to return. China has, though, resumed its oil imports from Libya, which were interrupted by the civil war. It is expected to ship 140,000 barrels a day from Libya this year.

2 Comments

Filed under China-Africa

Shifting Sands Of China’s Relationship With U.S.

Reuters’ report that China’s three big state-owned energy companies, CNPC, Sinopec and CNOOC, have had their arms twisted by the U.S. to suspend new investments in Iran causes this Bystander to raise an eyebrow. CNPC has reportedly delayed work on a 4.7 billion dollar deal; Sinopec has postponed a 2.0 billion dollar oil development, and CNOOC has halted a gas venture according to the news agency after U.S. officials threatened sanctions against the SOEs’ U.S. investments. This they apparently did by bypassing official diplomatic channels and going directly to the companies.

Now, Washington has not had much success in getting Beijing to go along with its efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear programme. Beijing opposes proposed UN sanctions, which would jeopardize the oil supplies it buys from Tehran, it’s third biggest supplier. Plus there is the general reluctance on Beijing’s part of being seen to be doing anything at Washington’s behest, and a general tendency to stick with old friends, especially those hostile to the U.S., (a policy that is causing some second thoughts, or at least some readjustment, in the light of events in places like Pakistan, Libya and Syria, all of which also have implications for the leadership’s legitimacy at home).

Even if there may be some shifting of the geo-political sands occurring, there is no way that any or all of CNPC, Sinopec and CNOOC would take it upon themselves to undermine official policy without at least tacit approval from Beijing. Which then makes the question, why would Beijing do this now. Is it just letting some of those swirling geo-political sands settle until prospects become clearer, or is using supposedly business decisions as a smokescreen, if we may mix and match our metaphors, for some back-channel cooperation with Washington that it sees to be in its short- or long-term advantage but which it can’t bring into the open? Or is it, as Reuters implies, just part of Beijing’s desire, seen since late last year, to ease tensions with the U.S.as it heads into it’s own leadership transition?

Leave a comment

Filed under China-U.S., Energy

China, Russia Make Scant Progress In Resolving Energy Disputes

The agreement signed with Russia after the latest round of Sino-Russian energy cooperation talks just concluded in Moscow papers over some wide cracks. For one, there doesn’t seem to be much more to the agreement than that the two countries will continue to try to conclude their long running discussions over two long-term gas-supply deals. Xinhua’s report is all cheer and no content.

What the two sides have been talking about, seemingly since when the Siberian forests that became the oil and gas were still forests, is to expand an outline agreement under which from 2015 Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom would supply 30 billion cubic meters a year–roughly one-third of China’s 2009 consumption and a quarter of Russia’s total exports–to more than double the volume, supplied via two direct pipelines from Siberia to western and central China. The formula for determining the price has been the main sticking point.

Been there, done that, got nowhere. Pricing is at the heart of the dispute over the Russian oil China has recently started getting via the Daqing spur to Russia’s East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline (ESPO). The deliveries are the result of $25 billion-worth of loans in 2009 from China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) and the China Development Bank to the energy company Rosneft and the state-owned pipeline monopoly Transneft that was to be repaid in oil, expected to be 15m tonnes a year (150,000 b/d) for 20 years starting this year.

The oil started flowing at the start of the year, but since then China has accused Russia of overcharging it for the deliveries, and demanded more oil as a make-up, while Russia said China was way underpaying given market conditions. The pricing formula has broken China’s way and Russia can sell to Japanese, South Korean and American customers far more profitably. It certainly has no intent to double up on its losses supplying China. Transneft has threatened to sue CNPC in court. Hard ball meets hard ball.

Meanwhile, the deliveries continue at their original levels. Last month CNPC and Rosneft broke ground for a joint-venture oil refinery in Tianjin that will be able to refine 260,000 barrels a day and is due to start operations in late 2013.

On the gas front, China’s increasing ability to source domestically and from Central Asia and some doubts about Gazprom’s capacity to deliver the extra gas has strengthened Beijing’s negotiating hand, while the higher prices Russia can get for its gas in Europe make Moscow in no hurry to resolve the issue, let alone buckle. Vice Premier Wang Qishan said after the Moscow that China “hopes the two sides could make further essential progress in gas talks as soon as possible and that the two sides exchanged views and plans on future energy cooperation, demonstrating mutual trust as well as candid and pragmatic spirit of cooperation between China and Russia”. Which pretty much says there was no progress.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under China-Russia, Energy

Cheap Russian Oil Starts Flowing To Northern China

The first Russian oil has flowed through the Daqing spur of the 2,750 kilometers pipeline connecting East Siberia to the Pacific Ocean (ESPO). The picture above shows the 1,000 kilometers spur at Mohe, where it enters China. Up to now China’s deliveries of Russian oil have come via Russia’s Far Eastern port of Kozmino to which it travels by rail from the Skovorodino terminal of the main ESPO pipeline.

The pipeline has been built by the Russian state companies, Transneft and Rosneft, using a 20 year $25 billion loan repayable in oil on favorable terms. China will be paying one-fifth as much for Daqing-delivered oil as it does for the supplies that come via Kozmino.

Russia sees a growing export market for its energy in China, though progress on oil stands in marked contrast to natural gas, the fuel to which China is switching from coal to generate heat and power. Negotiations over supplies and building the infrastructure to deliver them are stalled over price, and to a lesser extent some geopolitical jockeying in Central Asia. However, there has been agreement that Russia will start to supply China with Eastern Siberian gas in 2015.

2 Comments

Filed under China-Russia, Energy

Where China Put Its Big Bucks In 2010: Down South America Way

South America dominates the list of the biggest overseas acquisitions by Chinese companies this year. The two biggest to date: Sinopec’s $7 billion purchase of 40% of the Brazil assets of the Spanish energy group, Repsol; and the $5.6 billion CNOOC is spending in two phases for 50% of Bridas Corp., the investment vehicle of the Argentine vertically integrated energy group, Bridas. Bridas Corp.’s primary asset is Pan-American Energy (PAE). The partners are buying out BP’s 60% stake in PAE as BP raises cash to put in a piggy bank for any obligations arising out of the Deepwater Horizon accident, turning what looked in March like an iffy investment by CNOOC into something much more promising by the end of November.

Sinopec has since also picked up the U.S. oil company Occidental’s production and development assets in Argentina for $2.5 billion, the fourth biggest overseas investment by a Chinese company this year. The third biggest was Sinochem’s $3.1 billion purchase of a 40% stake in Statoil’s Peregrino subsalt field off the Brazilian coast. Add in a couple of smaller deals in Venezuela and Chinese firms have secured this year stakes in six projects that will eventually be producing upwards of 570,000 barrels of oil a day.

China’s state oil companies have long had a toe-hold in the region, but this year represents a big step forward, including diversifying China’s energy dependence on Venezuela. These deals have not only secured future oil supplies, they are also piecing together a vertical supply chain that includes refining, trading and storage — and further downstream power generation and distribution. State Grid, the world’s largest power utility and another state-owned behemoth, spent nearly $1 billion to acquire seven power distributors in Brazil as part of a deal it has won to be operate the power distribution system in densely populated southeastern Brazil.

Taken together those seven acquisitions would make a list of the ten largest overseas acquisitions by Chinese companies in 2010. As well as securing energy supplies for China’s own fast growing economy, Chinese companies will be well positioned to profit from the domestic growth of the emerging economies of South America.

In comparison the other big overseas acquisitions of the year seem small beer. PetroChina spent $1.6 billion to acquire Arrow, an Australian coal seam and power distribution company, in a joint bid with Royal Dutch Shell valued at $3.2 billion overall. Chinalco spent $1.3 billion to buy 45% of Rio Tinto’s Simandou iron ore business in Guinea through its Chalco subsidiary. China Huaneng Group, the country’s largest electricity producer, paid $1.2 billion for GMR Infrastructure’s 50% stake in InterGen, a U.S.-based utility that runs power plants in Britain, the Netherlands, Mexico, Australia and the Philippines.

The biggest industrial foreign acquisition was Geely’s $1.8 billion acquisition of Volvo from Ford Motor, the largest piece of business done by a company not state owned. The next largest industrial acquisition was the purchase of Nexteer, a parts-maker bought from GM by Pacific Century Motors, a joint venture between Tempo Group and the investment arm of the Beijing municipal government, a deal valued at less than $500 million.

Leave a comment

Filed under China-Latin America, Energy

CNOOC Extends China’s South America Reach

BP’s $7 billion sale at the end of last month of its 60% stake Pan American Energy to its partner Bridas which owns the other 40%, means CNOOC ends up with 50% of the oil and gas company that operates mainly in Argentina — and China takes another large step in the acquisition of energy interests in the region.

Since March, when CNOOC, China’s third-largest oil company, bought into Bridas for $3.1 billion, Bridas has been a 50-50 joint venture between the state-owned company and the Argentine owners of Bridas Corp., the well-connected Bulgheroni family who run a vertically integrated energy group that is the second-largest oil and gas producer in the country and have business connections to Central Asia.

BP may have been a forced seller, given its need to fill a war chest for any  obligations arising from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico; CNOOC either got a fine price this time or overpaid for its stake last March.

In the short term, CNOOC’s investment, which represents China’s second largest overseas M&A deal of the year, may give it access to the local market but long term the focus will be on exports. The question is how that will fit with the Argentine government’s policy to favor the domestic market over exports.

Update: State Grid, the world’s largest power utility, is buying seven Brazilian power distributors in a $1 billion deal. It has also won a 30-year concession to operate the power distribution system in densely populated southeastern Brazil — further evidence that Chinese companies see good business in the growth prospects of South America’s largest economies.

Leave a comment

Filed under China-Latin America