PetroChina Co Ltd is the world's biggest listed oil producer by crude oil output. [File Photo]
PetroChina Co Ltd will focus on storage and refining assets in the Americas this year, as part of its plan to establish three overseas operation centers to facilitate trade, said Chairman Jiang Jiemin on Wednesday.
Two other foreign operation centers - one for Asia, based in Singapore, and one for Europe, based in London - are taking shape.
Jiang sought to deflect media reports that the company is in talks with Valero Energy Corp to buy the latter's 235,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Aruba, an island in the southern Caribbean. He said that the project is something the company might look at, but he is not aware of any deal.
Jiang said PetroChina's trading and refining joint venture with United Kingdom-based INEOS Group Holdings Plc is expected to sell about 50 million to 60 million metric tons of oil products this year, strengthening its position in Europe.
The company, the world's biggest listed oil producer by crude oil output, recorded an 18.2 percent rise last year in net oil and gas output in foreign markets to 120.8 million barrels of oil equivalent. Overseas output comprised 9.4 percent of the total.
Growth momentum is expected to continue as the company accelerates the pace of foreign acquisitions.
In terms of crude oil output, PetroChina overtook ExxonMobil Corp to become the world's biggest oil producer when its annual crude oil production reached 886 million barrels last year, with the majority contributed by domestic production.
PetroChina will maintain stable growth of crude production in domestic oilfields, where its crude output is expected to surpass 110 million tons (or 14.03 million barrels) a year by the end of 2015, said Jiang. That would be up 4.6 percent from last year's level.
He said natural gas production will grow more rapidly than that of crude oil amid a worldwide push to increase investment in the unconventional gas sector.
PetroChina plans to start construction of the third phase of its west-east natural gas pipeline this year, linking Horgos in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to southeastern China's Fujian province, Jiang said.
The project, which will include participation by private companies for the first time, is expected to be completed within two to three years, he said.
China has almost completed its second phase of the giant infrastructure project, with an annual designed throughput capacity of about 30 billion cubic meters of gas, from Turkmenistan and Xinjiang.
Most of that gas will go to Guangdong province, one of the country's economic powerhouses.
The country's first pipeline, which can carry 12 billion cu m of gas a year from the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang to Shanghai, opened in 2004.
The third phase will supply gas to areas that the first two phases have yet to reach, said Lu Ying, a senior analyst with oil market service provider oilgas.com.cn.
Given increasing gas supplies from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, Lu said these countries may also be the major gas sources for the third pipeline.
Apparent consumption (production plus net imports) of natural gas in China, the world's fourth-biggest user of the fuel, rose 20.6 percent to 129 billion cu m last year.
Ulrich Benterbusch, director of the Global Energy Dialogue at the International Energy Agency, was quoted by Reuters as saying that China may import about 80 billion cu m to 200 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Central Asia alone by 2025.