The 5 Biggest Chinese Oil Companies

The U.S. continues to lead growth in the world's oil supplies. According to the International Energy Agency, American growth in the energy sector will continue through to 2025, thanks largely to the shale industry. But despite this, it's companies from China that continue to dominate the oil and gas sector when it comes to revenues. China's biggest crude oil companies are mostly state-owned energy conglomerates with sprawling international operations in exploration and production, petroleum and chemical processing, storage and transportation, as well as many other functions along the oil and gas supply chain. Keep reading to find out more about the top five Chinese producers of crude oil by volume.

Key Takeaways

  • China is home to many large oil and gas companies—most of which are state-owned.
  • Sinopec is one of the largest oil companies in the world and ranks first in terms of revenue.
  • China National Petroleum includes PetroChina, which is an oil and gas subsidiary with shares listed on New York Stock Exchange under the ticker PTR.
  • CNOOC, Shaanxi Yanchang, and Sinochem are also among the largest oil producers in China.


  • Founded: 2000
  • Headquarters: Beijing

China Petroleum and Chemical Corp., known informally as Sinopec, is an oil, gas, and chemical giant and is also one of the world's biggest corporations. The company ranked in the second spot on the Fortune 500 list of global companies, with revenues of more than $414 billion in 2019—greater than any other oil company in the world. While domestic oil production amounts to more than 300 million barrels, production from overseas oil fields is about 50 million barrels. Sinopec takes the top spot in this list on the basis of its consolidated revenue, but it is China's second-biggest crude oil producer by volume.

Sinopec maintains vast operations along the full length of the oil supply chain, from exploration and drilling to retail sales at more than 30,000 gasoline service stations. Sinopec was established in 1998 after the restructuring of its predecessor company, China Petrochemical Corporation. The company employs about 620,000 people across the world.

Sinopec shares started trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKG) in 2000. The company was subsequently listed on both the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), where it trades under the ticker SNP.

As of May 2020, foreign companies with assets of at least $43 million can take part in oil and gas exploration and production within China.

China National Petroleum Corporation

  • Founded: 1988
  • Headquarters: Beijing

China National Petroleum Corporation, or CNPC, is the second-largest Chinese crude oil producer by consolidated revenue and the biggest by production volume. The company ranked in the fourth spot on the Fortune 500 Global list with more than $392 billion in consolidated revenue.

Like Sinopec, CNPC operates businesses along the full length of the oil supply chain, from initial exploration to retail, with about 1.4 million people working across the world. Most CNPC operations are organized under PetroChina (PTR), a subsidiary company that was established in 1999. PTR trades on both the NYSE and the HKG. Shares started trading on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2007.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation

  • Founded: 1982
  • Headquarters: Beijing

China National Offshore Oil Corporation, known as CNOOC, focuses on oil and gas exploration and production in China's offshore waters. It has since developed into an international company with operations in more than 40 countries. CNOOC earned more than $108 billion in consolidated revenue, ranking in the 63rd spot on Fortune's top global companies in 2019.

In addition to oil and gas exploration and production, CNOOC is also engaged in refining, power generation, retail marketing, and engineering. Most of the company's primary operations are organized under its subsidiary, CNOOC Limited. CNOOC is listed on the NYSE, trading as CEO, and the HKG in 2001.

Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum

  • Founded: 1905
  • Headquarters: Xi'an, Shaanxi, China

Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum traces its history back to the Yanchang Oil Plant—the first oil enterprise established in China. The company engages in oil and gas exploration and production and refining operations in locations around the world. Most of Yanchang Petroleum's operations are organized under its subsidiary Yanchang Petroleum International, which is listed on the HKG.

The company earned $43.9 billion in consolidated revenue, making it the 263rd biggest company in the world, according to the Global 500 list from Fortune.

Sinochem Group

  • Founded: 1950
  • Headquarters: Beijing

Sinochem Group was established during the reorganization of China's largest international trading firm, China National Chemicals Import and Export Corporation. Sinochem Group remains one of the largest chemical companies in the country, but it has expanded its operations to include energy, real estate, agriculture, and financial services.

The company earned more than $89 billion in revenue, taking the 88th spot on the Fortune 500 Global list for 2019. Although it ranked higher in revenue than Shaanxi Yanchang, its production level is much lower. In fact, the company produces more than 25 million barrels of oil daily, making it China's fifth-largest crude oil producer by volume. Sinochem owns more than 300 subsidies including Sinochem International, China Jinmao, and Sinofert.