A pumpjack is seen at the Sinopec-operated Shengli oil field in Dongying, Shandong province, China January 12, 2017. Picture taken January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Chen Aizhu/File Photo
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, better known as Sinopec, is planning its highest capital investment in history for 2022 after recording its best profit in a decade, echoing Beijing's call for energy companies to raise production.
Sinopec expects to spend 198 billion yuan ($31.10 billion) in 2022, up 18% from a year ago, beating the previous record of 181.7 billion yuan set in 2013, according to a company statement filed to the Shanghai Stocks Exchange on Sunday.
It plans to invest 81.5 billion yuan in upstream exploitation, especially the crude oil bases in Shunbei and Tahe fields, and natural gas fields in Sichuan province and the Inner Mongolia region.
"Looking ahead in 2022, the market demand for refined oil will continued to recover, and demand for natural gas and petrochemical products will keep growing," Sinopec said in the statement.
It also warned of potential impacts of geopolitical challenges and volatile oil prices on the investment and operation at overseas businesses. But the firm did not name any specific project.
Reuters reported that Sinopec Group had suspended talks for a major petrochemical investment and a gas marketing venture in Russia, heeding a government call for caution as sanctions mount over the invasion of Ukraine.
Brent oil prices have gained 52% so far this year and hit as high as $139 a barrel in early March, stoked by fears of supply disruption in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Sinopec recorded its biggest profit in a decade in 2021 on the back of recovering energy demand and oil price increases in the post-COVID era, with net earnings reaching 71.21 billion yuan.
It plans to produce 281.2 million barrels of crude oil and 12,567 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2022, up from its output of 279.76 million barrels and 1,199 billion cubic feet in 2021.
Beijing seeks to ensure energy safety in the country amid intensifying geopolitical risks. It wants to keep annual crude oil output at 200 million tonnes and crank up natural gas production to more than 230 billion cubic metres (bcm) by 2025 from 205 bcm in 2021.
Crude throughput and production of refined oil products at Sinopec are expected to stay around the same level in 2022 from a year ago, at 258 million tonnes and 147 million tonnes, respectively.
But demand for gasoline and diesel are dented in China as more than 2,000 of daily COVID cases have triggered local authorities to impose stringent travel restrictions while manufacturers suspended operations amid supply chain clogs.
($1 = 6.3658 Chinese yuan renminbi)