Oil and gas producer China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) formed a trading joint venture with refiner Sinopec Group. The move brings CNOOC into the downstream petroleum business, which is dominated by Sinopec and PetroChina. The new firm, scheduled to commence operations in May, will be permitted to import three million tons of crude annually. China imports 91 million tons of crude each year. The two state-owned firms agreed to form the joint venture in January, with CNOOC controlling 60% of the new firm and Sinopec holding a 40% share. The venture is part of CNOOC's plan to invest US$12 billion in downstream businesses over the coming five years.