With the start-up of its second ethylene cracker in south China this month, the cooperation between China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Shell Petrochemical Company entered a new stage.
The 1.2-million-tonne project has more than doubled the capacity of the company's Nanhai petrochemicals complex, thus supporting this 50/50 joint venture between the CNOOC and international oil giant Shell in meeting the growing Chinese market.
"The expansion project demonstrates great synergies between CNOOC's engineering, construction, and management capabilities, and Shell's advanced technologies in chemicals," said He Zhongwen, president of CNOOC Oil & Petrochemicals Co. Ltd.
The project also offered a demonstration of how international cooperation has driven development of China's energy industries, which, like many other sectors, have benefited greatly from the country's opening-up efforts in past decades.
Foreign energy enterprises have played an important role in the investment, design, construction, and management of China's energy projects, said an unnamed official from the international cooperation department of National Energy Administration (NEA).
Since 2012, China has signed more than 100 cooperation agreements with other countries, set up 56 bilateral energy cooperation mechanisms and participated in 29 multilateral ones, which have brought a number of influential projects as well as advancement in energy investment, technologies, equipment, and services.
"Without participation in the international market, China is not able to bring on its transformation toward clean, low-carbon energy in the new era," said Bai Jun from the Institute of International Energy of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
Besides partnerships with foreign energy enterprises, China has also boosted energy imports to satisfy domestic demand and improve its energy structure.
In the first quarter of this year, China imported 20.61 million tonnes of natural gas, surging 37.3 percent year on year, while oil imports went up 7 percent to 110 million tonnes.
The import increase came amid China's domestic shortage in natural gas supply since last year as the country needs more clean and high-quality energy to fuel economic development while protecting environment.
"It is necessary for China to fill the demand-supply gap in the domestic energy sector through international cooperation," said Jing Chunmei, a researcher at China Center for International Economic Exchanges, noting that China still faces issues of insufficient and imbalanced energy supply.
Zhou Dadi, a senior researcher at the Energy Research Institute under the NDRC, said that further opening up of the energy sector would make up China's energy shortage and diversify energy supply.
Meanwhile, China could improve its energy development and management via means of energy technology exchange, he said.
Energy experts also believe that China's continued opening-up efforts will bring benefit to the global energy sector as the country is exploring all ways of cooperation with energy-rich partners.
For foreign investors, China's steady expansion in both the energy industry and energy demand means a vast and stable market, they said.
In 2017, China imported 1.51 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas and 7.6 million tonnes of crude oil from the United States.
Meanwhile, with natural gas pipelines under construction, China is expected to obtain up to 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia annually upon project completion.
"Furthering international cooperation on energy is bringing tangible benefits to all parties involved," said Nur Bekri, head of the NEA.
China will further open up the energy sector, expand international energy cooperation in all ways, facilitate energy trade and investment, keep improving the business environment, and help build a more open, stable, and sustainable global energy market, the unnamed NEA official pledged.