Compared to their peers in the US, China’s largest oil and gas “super-majors” have had a fairly rough year.
Shares for ExxonMobil (XOM) have advanced just over 10 percent year-to-date, while Chevron (CVX) has topped that performance with a gain of over 14 percent. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (SNP) , otherwise known was Sinopec, has lost just over two percent, and China’s top oil company PetroChina Ltd. ($PTR) now has shares that have shed nearly one-fifth of their price since the beginning of 2013.
Friday’s trading session saw a brief reprieve from this situation, however, with shares for Sinopec and PetroChina moving sharply upward and handily outperforming its competitors in major integrated oil and gas industry.
For Sinopec, today’s gains come as a result of its morning announcement that it would be partnering with Royal Dutch Shell ($RDS.A) to probe the shale formations beneath central China in order to search for gas resources.
Despite how much has been written about the US’s so-called “shale boom,” China is thought to have the largest reserves of natural gas on the planet. The effort to tap in to these badly-needed reserves has been mostly stymied, however, by significantly more challenging geological conditions, as well as an oil industry that has yet to develop the necessary technology.
And while Shell is certainly not the first of the world’s major petroleum producers to collaborate with its counterparts in the world’s most populous country, it is the first foreign company to have been awarded the privilege of entering into a production-sharing contract with one of them, and this has been interpreted as a sign that more such opportunities will be opening up in the future, as China struggles to reduce its reliance on coal.
PetroChina’s gains on the day are not unrelated. On Thursday, its parent company, China National Petroleum Company, concluded a deal with another state-run oil major Petrobras ($PBR), to purchase its entire stake in the Brazilian giants subsidiary in Peru for a reported $2.6 billion.
In midday trading, both Sinopec and PetroChina were trading about 4.6 percent higher at $116.60 per share and $85.80 per share respectively.