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Chinese Oil Tycoon Plans Global Expansion
China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the nation's largest oil company, posted a profit of 53.3 billion yuan (US$6.4 billion) last year, a narrow increase due to a lower oil price but tough cost-control efforts.

The company, parent firm of PetroChina, Asia's most profitable firm, also said yesterday that it is seeking opportunities to expand its overseas business, reaping more oil reserves, and even building refineries and petrol stations in foreign countries.

The strategy, which analysts called "revolutionary," aims to help it grow into a multinational giant that is capable of vying with global majors.

"Overseas operation makes up 60-70 percent of the total business of global giants like ExxonMobil," said Ma Fucai, chairman of the company, at yesterday's news briefing. "We are working towards that long-term goal."

To achieve this, the company plans, by 2005, to produce 35 million tons of oil in overseas reserves.

Last year, its overseas output reached 21.2 million tons, 5 million tons more than 2001.

CNPC's profits last year rose by a marginal 0.5 percent over 2001, with a turnover of 349.8 billion yuan (US$42.3 billion).

But Ma said: "The achievement is hard won, considering last year's lower oil price."

According to Ma, the company's oil sales price is US$1.23 a barrel lower than that of 2001. For US$1 drop in price, the profit will slide by 5 billion yuan (US$604.5 million).

He attributed the better-than-expected performance to cost-cutting efforts and stable oil and gas production.

The company produced 117.6 million tons of oil last year, a slight rise from 106.5 million tons in 2001. Gas output rose to 23.3 billion cubic meters, versus 20.6 billion cubic meters a year earlier.

(China Daily January 14, 2003)

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