The long-delayed petrol station joint ventures between Sinopec and Shell, Exxon Mobil and BP are likely to be formally agreed later this year, South China Morning Post said, quoting a Sinopec spokesman. Sinopec struck preliminary agreements with the oil giants in 2000 to jointly establish 1,500 petrol stations – 500 with Shell in Jiangsu province, 500 with BP in Zhejiang and 500 in Guangdong with Exxon Mobil.
Work on preparing the joint ventures has been held up while awaiting government approval. However, Sinopec says it is now looking to sign a formal agreement with Shell in the second quarter of this year and with the other two international oil giants in the second half of this year.
Sinopec operates more than 24,000 petrol stations in China, twice the number of its main rival, PetroChina. BP has also teamed up with PetroChina to open up to 1,000 petrol stations in Fujian province. Sinopec and PetroChina currently have a government monopoly on wholesale supplies of fuel oils and on building new petrol stations. However, under the terms of China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation, retail distribution will be opened to foreign firms by 2003 and wholesale distribution in 2005.