If you'd visited the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last week, you might have gained greater appreciation for China's increasing thirst for energy. There, an inauguration ceremony was held formalizing Chinese government approval of a pair of joint venture contracts that will vastly expand that nation's energy infrastructure.
The players in those contracts -- in addition to Chinese officials -- were representatives of two major energy companies: ExxonMobil
The first of the projects will expand the capacity of a refinery in Quanzhou, Fujian province, from 80,000 to 240,000 barrels per day. Throughput for the refinery will consist primarily of sour Arabian crude. The project will also construct several petrochemical units, including an 800,000 tons-per-year ethylene steam cracker and an 800,000 tons-per-year polyethylene unit.
The second project will involve the management and operation of about 750 service stations, and a network of terminals in Fujian province. Both of the projects will be majority-owned by entities of the Chinese government, with the remaining interests divided equally between units of ExxonMobil and Saudi Aramco.
Sure, this is all interesting stuff, but how will it affect you? I've got at least two answers:
- As mentioned, the two projects indicate the rapidly increasing demand for crude oil and refined products in China. Remember, the world will need to add as much as 50% to its daily energy productive capacity during just the next couple of decades. Much of the incremental increase in demand (from about 85 million daily barrels now to at least 120 million barrels per day by 2030) will come from China and other developing nations.
- The projects also indicate the rapidly increasing globalization of energy. It can be positive, as with the new Chinese ventures or the successful Sakhalin joint ventures in Russia. It also can have negative implications: Witness the nationalization of energy projects in Venezuela, the weekend kidnapping of two oilfield workers in Nigeria, or the jump in worldwide crude oil prices resulting from Iran's recent shenanigans. Only if bad experiences increase in frequency or severity, however, will globalization likely become a net negative for the U.S.
The world of energy is becoming more dynamic and more complex than we can generally appreciate from our trips to the gasoline pump. While I haven't used the word volatile, I easily could. As such, I continue to urge Fools to include energy in their portfolios. In addition to ExxonMobil, I believe that good choices for the future might include Chevron
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