In­vest­ment: Car­ing is more im­por­tant than money, says oil and gas firm

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSI­NESS DIGEST -

“Gabon is highly in­ter­na­tion­al­ized in Africa. There are oil com­pa­nies such as To­tal and Shell do­ing busi­ness lo­cally,” said Sun. “The political and nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment of Gabon is also more fa­vor­able, com­pared with other African coun­tries.

“How­ever, the new govern­ment of Gabon, un­der the pow­er­ful in­flu­ence of West­ern coun­tries, seems to be less friendly to­ward Chi­nese en­ter­prises now.”

She said the com­pany should strengthen com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­op­er­a­tion with re­source-rich coun­tries to im­prove its busi­ness per­for­mance.

The Gabon project has daily pro­duc­tion of 35,000 bar­rels of crude oil. An­other project in Gabon is un­der con­struc­tion, but it’s ex­pected to start pro­duc­tion in the first half of 2015, ac­cord­ing to Sun.

Be­yond Gabon, Sinopec has been strength­en­ing its strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion with the na­tional oil com­pany of An­gola — So­nan­gol EP. Sinopec has par­tic­i­pated in six deep­wa­ter oil and gas projects in An­gola so far. As of June 30, it had in­vested about $6 bil­lion in these projects.

Sinopec also signed a frame­work agree­ment on geo­ther­mal en­ergy co­op­er­a­tion with the govern­ment of the Repub­lic of Dji­bouti last year, un­der which Sinopec agreed to use its ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy and ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Sinopec is not only an in­vestor but also a tech­ni­cal ser­vice provider, and an ad­vo­cate and prac­ti­tioner of low-car­bon and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment,” said Fu.

As Chi­nese in­vestors ex­pand in Africa, they’ve also had to learn how to com­mu­ni­cate and fit in, a must for China’s “go­ing global”.

Hav­ing worked in Gabon for nearly two years, Sun said it takes a long time to get used to lo­cal work­ing pro­ce­dures, which are highly West­ern­ized. “The cul­ture is dif­fer­ent, which leads to dif­fer­ent work­ing meth­ods and at­ti­tudes,” she said.

As for Sinopec, Sun em­pha­sized, the com­pany should strike a bal­ance be­tween ac­cess to lo­cal re­sources and the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of the com­mu­nity.

“We have kept most of the po­si­tions of the lo­cal staff af­ter the ac­qui­si­tion in 2009. To help them work bet­ter, we sent a cer­tain num­ber of lo­cal em­ploy­ees to China for train­ing and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing our cul­ture for bet­ter mu­tual un­der­stand­ing,” said Sun.

She said lo­cal residents can use the com­pany’s util­ity boats for free as trans­port be­tween their homes in the rain forests and the towns where they shop.

Com­pany staff of­ten go to the lo­cal schools to do­nate school bags, sta­tionery and foot­balls.

“We have oil blocks in the re­gion that we have to take good care of. Mean­while, we need to take care of the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties as a com­pany,” said Sun.

Sinopec has do­nated more than $6.58 mil­lion in Africa in re­cent years. Money is just one as­pect, though. Car­ing is more valu­able.

Sinopec has been try­ing to re­cruit more lo­cal em­ploy­ees to raise their in­comes and cul­ti­vate a tal­ent pool of pro­fes­sion­als in Africa.

In Nige­ria, Sinopec Ad­dax helped 450 lo­cal com­mu­nity mem­bers in the past nine years through a train­ing pro­gram, which helped them ei­ther start own busi­nesses or get a job.

In 2012, Sinopec learned that peo­ple in two vil­lages in Gabon (Gon­gouwe and Ine­ganja) had been us­ing rain­wa­ter in the ab­sence of clean drink­ing wa­ter.

Af­ter study and field in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the com­pany al­lo­cated $200,000 from its com­mu­nity fund and hired lo­cal well-drilling com­pa­nies to dig a well for each vil­lage.

The com­pany handed the wells over to lo­cal gov­ern­ments with of­fi­cial wa­ter qual­ity com­pli­ance re­ports in Oc­to­ber 2012, to the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of residents.

Look­ing for­ward

Proven oil and gas re­serves has been ex­panded rapidly in Africa, and not only in tra­di­tional en­ergy-rich re­gions in the north­ern and west­ern parts of the con­ti­nent. Ex­plo­ration work has also achieved some im­por­tant suc­cesses in south­ern and eastern Africa in re­cent years.

Ac­cord­ing to a CNPC Eco­nom­ics & Tech­nol­ogy Re­search In­sti­tute re­port, Africa’s oil re­serves stood at 132.1 bil­lion bar­rels at the end of 2011, ac­count­ing for 8 per­cent of the global fig­ure. There are more than 60 oil and gas projects un­der con­struc­tion in Africa, most of which will be in op­er­a­tion by 2017.

How­ever, since African coun­tries lack re­fin­ing ca­pac­ity, they fa­vor more in­vest­ment in down­stream busi­nesses such as re­fin­ing in­stead of just ex­plo­ration at the up­stream end of the busi­ness, said Wang Zhen, deputy head of the China Uni­ver­sity of Petroleum.

Con­tact the writer at du­juan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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