Monday, July 11, 2005

Jul 11/05 - Sobre la estrategia de refinación de China

PMBComentario: quizás China, con su gran déficit de capacidad de refinación, hubiese sido un buen mercado para continuar con la política de Internacionalización…pero para que perder el tiempo comentando lo que pudo ser. Ahora, si vemos hacia el futuro y asumimos que estos desquiciados y sinvergüenzas siguen en el poder en Venezuela, no seria para nada sorprendente que el CRP termine en manos de ExxonMobil, ARAMCO y Sinopec – un paso coherente para la “internalización” y la perdida de soberanía, las dos estrategias petroleras claves de un régimen dizque revolucionario. PMB

The Wall Street Journal

Exxon, Aramco Plan Project in China

Deal With Sinopec Includes
$3.5 Billion Oil Refinery
And Petrochemical Plant

July 11, 2005

In a move that underscores the growing importance of China to the oil industry, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Saudi Aramco are proceeding with a joint $3.5 billion refinery and petrochemical project with China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec.

The announcement of the deal comes on the heels of a bid by Cnooc Ltd., another Chinese oil company, to buy midsize U.S. oil producer Unocal Corp., which has heightened concerns about U.S. energy independence. But the Exxon Mobil and Aramco refining joint venture indicates that the world's oil majors also are working to build assets in China, the world's fastest-growing oil market that is second only to the U.S in demand.

"It's a two-way street," said Paul Sankey, an analyst at Deutsche Bank in New York.

On Friday, Exxon Mobil said it signed a contract with a unit of state-owned Aramco and Fujian Petrochemical Co., which is equally owned by Sinopec and the province of Fujian. The three partners had been trying to clinch a deal for years. Exxon and Aramco will each hold a 25% interest in the Fujian Refining and Ethylene Joint Venture Project, while the remaining half will be owned by Fujian Petrochemical.

Sinopec is among the largest oil players in China, which is short on both crude oil and the capacity to refine it. Exxon Mobil, meanwhile, has a considerable amount of cash for investment and a reputation as one of the most cost-conscious oil majors in designing and operating projects. Aramco, the world's largest oil exporter, is looking for a market for its high-sulfur crudes, which many of the world's refineries aren't designed to process and, therefore, don't want. Saudi Arabia also wants to extract more value from its crude by refining it into oil products.

"It makes sense for all the partners," said Larry Goldstein, president of New-York based Petroleum Industry Research Foundation.

The deal would add some 160,000 barrels a day of crude processing capability to an existing 80,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Quongang, Fujian province. The refinery will be designed to handle sour Arabian crude, which Aramco will supply under a long-term contract also signed Friday. While Exxon Mobil gave no timetable for completion of the project, construction typically takes years.

The Fujian project will include a petrochemical plant. Also, Exxon Mobil, Aramco and Sinopec are forming a joint marketing venture that will operate 600 service stations to make the Fujian project the first fully integrated Sino-foreign oil and chemicals project, Exxon said.

Though the planned refinery expansion is modest, the joint venture suggests that similar projects are likely in other fast-developing economies such as India, said Seth Kleinman, an analyst at PFC Energy, a Washington consulting firm. They also are possible in major oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia, which has been discussing a refinery joint venture with India.

Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi said earlier this year that Saudi Arabia may add as much as 800,000 barrels a day in refining capacity at home and abroad. At the moment, Saudi Arabia can process 3.3 million barrels a day of its crude-oil production capacity of some 11 million barrels a day.

Despite robust refining margins, refiners are reluctant to build new plants in the U.S. because of historically low returns on investment, expanding environmental rules and opposition from local communities. With the last domestic refinery built some 30 years ago, the U.S. depends heavily on imports of oil products.

A lack of global refining capacity is widely seen as contributing to the high price of refined products such as gasoline and jet fuel, and also sweet, or low-sulfur, crudes, such as the U.S. benchmark oil and North Sea Brent that are traded on futures exchanges in New York and London. That is because once refiners run out of capacity to remove sulfur, they seek out and pay premiums for sweet crudes, which they can process more readily.

The International Energy Agency forecasts oil demand of 86.4 million barrels a day in the fourth quarter, while world refining capacity totaled 84.5 million barrels a day at the end of 2004, according to the BP Statistical Review, an industry reference. That suggests refiners will have to build up inventories in advance to meet demand later this year.

U.S. benchmark crude for August delivery fell $1.10 to $59.63 a barrel Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.