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Foreign, private firms to gain wider access to oil, gas sectors

2020-1-10 16:14

 

China will fully open its oil and gas exploration and mining market to qualified foreign and private enterprises, so that the industry will become further vitalized, under a pilot guideline released on Thursday by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Domestic companies and foreign ones registered in China with net assets of at least 300 million yuan ($43.16 million) will be eligible to apply for oil and gas prospecting and mining permits.

Previously, foreign companies could enter the industry only through joint ventures or other cooperative arrangements with Chinese companies, mainly State-owned giants.

The guideline, which takes effect on May 1, says that to explore and extract oil and gas a company must meet certain criteria covering safety, environmental protection and technology.

It will also promote "competitive" transfers of prospecting and mining rights through public bidding, auctions and listings, except in special circumstances that allow the rights to be transferred through agreements.

After oil or gas is found, the holder of the prospecting rights must register the resources with the authorities. At that point, extraction may begin. The signing of a mining authorization contract must be completed within five years.

Analysts said the guideline aims to bring more players into the sector to stimulate the vitality of the upstream market for oil and gas, which is currently dominated by large State-owned enterprises.

"The opening-up of the market will attract more players to oil and gas prospecting and mining. It will energize the market and increase oil and gas production," said Zhao Xu, an expert at the School of Economics and Management at China University of Petroleum in Beijing.

China has developed an increasing appetite for oil and gas as its economy grows, but because many of its easily exploitable resources have already been detected and tapped, it takes greater investment and involves greater risks to discover and tap the remaining resources, she said.

The opening of the upstream oil and gas market, and the adoption of competitive mining rights transfers, will ensure open and fair competition among all eligible market entities and facilitate the allocation of prospecting and mining rights to the most suitable players, she said.

Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University, said the pilot guideline reflects China's push to bring diverse investors and other players into the oil and gas industry as part of the market-oriented reform of the sector. The guideline will have significant influence as time passes, he said.

"In the long term, with more market players and with fair competition, the cost of oil and gas exploration and mining will be reduced and efficiency will be raised. It will become economical and feasible, then, to find and extract resources that are too expensive to make use of right now. And it will increase the oil and gas supply."

However, he said, detail-oriented follow-up policies and down-to-earth implementation are needed to encourage private and foreign companies to take part, because oil and gas exploration and mining is a risky business that requires heavy, long-term investment and technology development. While returns can be lucrative, the cost of getting there is substantial.

Zhao also raised concerns about private Chinese companies' lack of funds and advanced technology, especially compared with foreign entities and the State-owned giants.

She suggested they get into the industry through cooperation with others, including joint ventures.

 

根据自然资源部周四发布的一项试点指导意见,中国将全面向符合条件的外国和私营企业开放油气勘探和开采市场,以进一步振兴该行业。


国内企业和在中国注册的外国企业,净资产不低于3亿元人民币(4316万美元)的,将有资格申请油气勘探和开采许可证。


在此之前,外国公司只能通过与中国公司(主要是国有巨头)的合资或其他合作方式进入该行业。


该指导意见将于5月1日生效。该指导意见称,勘探和开采石油和天然气的公司必须满足一定的安全、环保和技术标准。


它还将通过公开招标、拍卖和挂牌来促进探矿权和采矿权的“竞争性”转让,但允许通过协议转让的特殊情况除外。


发现石油、天然气后,探矿权人必须向有关部门登记。到那时,开采可能就开始了。采矿授权合同的签署必须在五年内完成。


分析人士表示,该指导方针旨在吸引更多企业进入该行业,以激发油气上游市场的活力。目前,油气上游市场由大型国有企业主导。


“市场的开放将吸引更多的企业来勘探和开采石油和天然气。中国石油大学经济管理学院专家赵旭说。


她说,随着中国经济的增长,中国对石油和天然气的需求也越来越大,但由于中国许多易于开发的资源已经被发现和开发,因此发现和开发剩余资源需要更大的投资和风险。


她说,开放上游油气市场,采用竞争性的采矿权转让,将确保所有符合条件的市场实体之间的公开和公平竞争,并有利于将探矿权和采矿权分配给最合适的参与者。


厦门大学中国能源政策研究所所长林伯强表示,作为油气行业市场化改革的一部分,试点指导意见反映了中国将多元化投资者和其他参与者引入油气行业的努力。他说,随着时间的推移,该指导方针将产生重大影响。


“从长远来看,随着更多的市场参与者和公平竞争,油气勘探和开采的成本将会降低,效率将会提高。因此,寻找和开采那些现在无法利用的昂贵资源将变得经济可行。这将增加石油和天然气的供应。”


然而,他表示,需要制定注重细节的后续政策并切实执行,以鼓励私人和外国公司参与,因为石油和天然气勘探和开采是一项高风险的业务,需要大量的长期投资和技术开发。虽然回报可能是丰厚的,但实现这一目标的成本是巨大的。


赵还对中国民营企业缺乏资金和先进技术表示担忧,尤其是与外国实体和国有巨头相比。


她建议他们通过与包括合资企业在内的其他公司合作进入这个行业。

原作者: LIU ZHIHUA and YANG WANLI 来自: china daily