Reforms of major state owned enterprises, especially public utility and energy suppliers, are a big interest in both Beijing and Shanghai. One of them, China’s largest oil refiner, Sinopec, has turned a quarter of its traditional gas stations in the city into self-service outlets over the past 6 years, and will transform more this year. The company recently announced it would seek new capital from the private sector.
Late last month, Sinopec proposed selling up to 30 percent of its multi-billion-dollar marketing arm to private investors. Currently, that arm operates more than 30,000 gas stations nationwide, including 586 in Shanghai. But it’s not clear whether Sinopec would set up a joint venture or just absorb the money to establish a partnership.
Sinopec’s local office wouldn’t talk about its plans to bring in private investment or how its business will change. The country’s other major gas company, PetroChina, said today it is also looking to bring in some private investment.