The 5 Biggest Chinese Oil Companies

The U.S. continues to lead growth in the world's oil supplies, with global oil demand continuing to grow for the foreseeable future. But despite the U.S. leading oil production, 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 oil companies by revenue.

Key Takeaways

  • China is home to many large oil and gas companies—most of which are state-owned.
  • China National Petroleum Corporation is one of the largest oil companies in the world and ranks first in terms of revenue.
  • Sinopec is China's largest oil supplier and its second-largest oil producer.
  • CNOOC, Shaanxi Yanchang, and Sinochem are also among the largest oil producers in China.

1. China National Petroleum Corporation

  • Founded: 1988
  • Headquarters: Beijing
  • China National Petroleum Corporation, or CNPC, is the largest Chinese crude oil producer by revenue and the biggest by production volume. The company ranked in the fourth spot on the Fortune Global 500 list with $284 billion in revenue in 2021.

    CNPC operates businesses along the full length of the oil supply chain, from initial exploration to retail, with about 432,000 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.

    2. Sinopec

    • Founded: 1983
    • 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 fifth spot on the Fortune list of the global 500 companies, with revenues of more than $283.7 billion in 2021.

    Sinopec is China's largest supplier of oil and its second-largest producer. Sinopec maintains vast operations along the full length of the oil supply chain, from exploration and drilling to retail sales. The company employs about 384,000 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.

    Foreign companies with assets of at least $43 million can take part in oil and gas exploration and production within China.

    3. 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 40 countries. CNOOC earned $83 billion in revenue in 2021, ranking in the 92nd spot on Fortune's Global 500 companies list in 2021.

    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 on the Hang Seng Index.

    4. 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 $47.5 billion in revenue in 2021, making it the 234th biggest company in the world, according to the Global 500 list from Fortune.

    5. 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 $63.5 billion in revenue, taking the 151st spot on the Fortune Global 500 list in 2021. Sinochem owns more than 300 subsidies including Sinochem International, China Jinmao, and Sinofert.

    What Are the Largest Oil Companies in the World?

    The largest oil companies in the world by market cap as of March 2022 are Saudi Aramco ($2.2 trillion), Exxon Mobil ($349 billion), Chevron ($320 billion), Shell ($208 billion), and PetroChina ($145 billion).

    Who Is China's Largest Oil Supplier?

    In 2021, Saudi Arabia was China's largest oil supplier, making up 17% of total Chinese imports. China purchased 87.58 million tonnes of crude oil from Saudi Arabia in 2021.

    Does China Buy Oil From the U.S.?

    Yes, China does buy oil and petroleum products from the U.S. In 2021, China bought 216.6 million barrels of oil and petroleum products from the U.S.

    Article Sources

    Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
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