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China's Oil Majors Boost Spending Amid Energy Security Pivot

China's largest state-owned oil giants have recently announced major increases in their capital expenditure plans for this year, as the world's largest oil importer prioritizes energy security amid soaring energy commodity prices and geopolitical turmoil on the global markets.

The three largest Chinese oil firms—PetroChina, Sinopec, and CNOOC—expect to raise their collective 2022 capital expenditures by 4.6 percent year over year, to at least $84 billion (530 billion Chinese yuan), according to data from the most recent company filings compiled by Bloomberg. Individually, the planned capex for PetroChina and Sinopec this year are second and third in the world in terms of U.S. dollars, behind only the capex plan for 2022 of Saudi Arabia's oil giant Aramco, the data showed.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) announced this weekend that its 2022 spending would be the highest in the corporation's history. Sinopec guided for a capital spending of $31 billion (198 billion yuan) this year. This would be an 18-percent increase compared to 2021 and higher than the previous record capex from 2013. 

PetroChina, for its part, plans a lower overall capex this year, but a boost to spending on exploration and production, to develop more resources domestically, including in shale oil and gas formations.

Offshore oil and gas developer CNOOC also expects to raise its 2022 capital expenditure compared to the 2021 spending.

Early this month, China said it would increase its crude oil, natural gas, and coal production, boost reserves of energy commodities, and keep stable imports to ensure its energy security amid skyrocketing commodities prices.

China's planning body NDRC said that the country would raise coal production and reserves, develop "major petroleum reserve projects," and increase petroleum reserves, too, per Reuters.

China is concerned about its energy security after the autumn 2021 power crisis and, most recently, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which pushed energy commodity prices sky-high. 


By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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