Sinopec full steam ahead with shale gas revolution
Chinese bike-sharing startup Ofo Inc will soon offer more bicycles in the United Kingdom and the United States after its trial operations in the two countries gained positive feedback from local consumers, co-founder Yu Xin said.
The move also came after the company gained more than 100,000 customers in Singapore within just 100 days, an experience which gives it confidence in accelerating overseas expansion, despite mounting competition from rival Mobike Technology Co Ltd.
“Ofo’s trial operation in Cambridge in the UK has concluded and we are about to launch more bikes soon,” Yu said. “The trial operation in the US is still ongoing, but we will also move into official operation soon in several local cities.”
Yu did not offer details about how many bicycles it will add in the two countries. It started trial projects in California in March and Cambridge in April, where in both locations it has around 20 employees. As Ofo steps up expansion, “the number will grow fast in future”, Yu said.
The company announced last week that it had raised more than $700 million from investors including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The new cash will finance its plan to more than triple its yellow bikes to 20 million in 200 cities globally by the end of this year.
In Singapore, the first overseas destination it entered in February, Ofo now processes more than 20,000 trips every day, with more than 10,000 bicycles. It also has a team of over 30 people to operate local services.
It is working with government bodies, town councils and other local players to establish more than 100 preferred parking zones in pub- lic housing estates.
“We aim to release over 1,000 bicycles across 28 different housing estates in Singapore by the end of the year,” Yu said.
Wang Chenxi, an analyst at Beijing-based research company Analysys, said Ofo is seeing explosive growth in the number of users, but how to maintain them will be a tougher question.
To cater to Singaporean consumers, Ofo redesigned its bicycles, equipping them with a rear brake box that increases travel safety and stability, and a water bottle holder.
In the latest version of the Ofo app, the company has connected with Google Maps services. Cyclists can also input their designed route directly into the app, and the map will highlight nearby parking zones and attractions. It is also partnering with AXA Insurance, to insure the trips users make on Ofo bicycles. might also hamper the development, as expertise to access the immense shale deposits is also necessary, she said.
Foreign investors have been pulling back from Chinese shale gas exploration in recent years, including ConocoPhillips of the US, which has quit shale gas exploration in China after abandoning a second block in the Sichuan basin earlier this year, considering the block did not meet its benchmark for commercial development.
“We need the technology and the knowhow to diversify and reduce risks by working with these companies on complicated projects”, she said.
However, considering the natural gas price is likely to witness a surge in the future and given Sinopec’s dedication to increase shale gas output and reduce costs, the future is promising, she added.
According to the oil and gas reserve assessment office under the Ministry of Land and Resources, against the backdrop of low oil prices, China has come up with the core technologies for the exploration and development of the shale gas, while achieving the localization of key equipment.
China has also set more than 100 technical standards and substantially reduced the cost of shale gas exploration in Fuling.
According to Sinopec, after years of development, most of the key equipment for shale gas exploration has been domestically manufactured, including the drilling wells, and the testing, extraction and transportation facilities.
A worker checks facilities at a shale gas field in Fuling, Chongqing.