Global Networks and the Two Faces of Chinese National Oil Companies

in Perspectives on Global Development and Technology
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This paper investigates the patterns of transnational investments and alliances of Chinese state-owned oil companies since the mid-1990s and the social networks of their directors, taking the case of cnpc and its listed subsidiary PetroChina as the example. Using Social Network Analysis, I will map how the oil companies and their directors are embedded in corporate and political networks both inside and outside China. The preliminary findings presented in this study show that with their overseas expansion, cnpc and PetroChina increasingly collaborate with other oil companies. Significantly, also forming what I have called ‘hybrid alliances’ with Western private oil majors. However, they remain wedded to a different role at home, where they are expected to adhere to priorities and values tightly knit to the state, such as supply security and social responsibilities. This duality is mirrored by the Chinese oil company directors who must maintain a balancing act between their ‘two faces’ of corporate managers, on the one hand, and commitments to party-state interests, on the other.

Global Networks and the Two Faces of Chinese National Oil Companies

in Perspectives on Global Development and Technology



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PetroChina which became listed in 2007is still 86 per cent-owned by parent cnpc.


Email interview 14 June 2011.


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    Oil, Gas, Coal Production 1981-2012.

    source: compiled from data provided by bp (2013)

  • View in gallery
    Primary energy consumption, 1965-2011.

    source: compiled from data provided by bp (2012)

  • View in gallery
    Refining capacity 1965-2011.

    source: compiled from data provided by bp (2012)

  • View in gallery
    co2 emissions 1965-2011.

    source: compiled from data provided by bp (2012)

  • View in gallery
    cnpc/PetroChina crossborder 2-mode network in 2007.

    source: data collection by author (see method section)

  • View in gallery
    cnpc/PetroChina crossborder 2-mode network in 2012.

    source: data collection by author (see method section)

  • View in gallery
    Geographical distribution investments cnpc/PetroChina 1997, 2007 and 2012.

    source: data collection author

  • View in gallery
    Board of Directors cnpc

    sources: data collection by author (see method section)

    note: etech securities inc. is a subsidiary of greater china securities inc; the three affiliations of lixin wang are all with sinopec, and similarly the tianjin affiliations of yongwu li all belong to the same corporate entity.

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