CNPC & TOTAL NEGOTIATIONS
China National Petroleum Corp and French oil major Total are in talks to transfer a stake in a joint venture oil refinery in the northeast port city of Dalian.
Wang Dongjin, president of CNPC's listed unit PetroChina, met with a Total vice-president in Beijing and discussed "domestic and overseas upstream projects and a stake transfer in the Wepec refinery", CNPC said on its website.
Total holds one of the most diverse investments of the foreign oil majors in China, including a 22.4 per cent stake in the West Pacific Petrochemical Corp, or Wepec, refinery, set up in the 1990s to export gasoline.
However, foreign oil majors have been frustrated by their limited role in China's closed market. China has not opened most of its energy and fuel markets to foreign or even private competition, despite commitments when it jointed the World Trade Organisation.
In recent years the Wepec joint venture has been limited in its ability to profit by China's growing demand for refined products, due to difficulties in obtaining a licence to sell domestically.
Total confirmed that it was in talks with PetroChina to sell its stake, although declined to give any details on the timing or the reasons for the divestment.
CNPC operates Wepec, which is also partially owned by state-owned Sinochem and local companies in Dalian.
The sale, if completed, will come at a time when Chinese state-owned enterprises are being encouraged to sell minority stakes in key assets, to bring in outside capital without relinquishing control.
CNPC has said it will sell off oil pipelines while its main rival Sinopec is seeking partners for its retail business, including gas stations and convenience stores. On Wednesday, Sinopec said it was restructuring its lubricants business as a separate unit, as a preliminary step to attracting an outside investor.
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