Eni signed a cooperation agreement with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) on Wednesday in a move that could give the Italian oil major greater access to the Chinese market.
Eni said in a statement it had agreed to work with state-owned CNPC in the fields of exploration and production, liquefied natural gas (LNG), trading and refining-petrochemicals.
The deal will cover operations in China and abroad, it said, without giving further details.
“It could allow Eni to tap Chinese resources while allowing CNPC to use Eni skills to develop its assets round the world,” one London-based oil analyst said, asking not to be named.
China, which is ramping up its exploration efforts as crude oil production from ageing wells drops, is on a mission to lift natural gas consumption to help combat smog.
The world’s top consumer of oil and coal has embarked on a huge investment program to expand its LNG and pipeline infrastructure.
Eni has plans to boost its LNG business to meet growing demand early next decade and is looking to Asia to help market its growing gas portfolio.
“The meeting (in Rome on Wednesday) was a chance to further strengthen the relationship between the two companies,” Eni said.
The Italian state-controlled major, which has offices in Beijing, already works alongside CNPC on certain projects.
In 2013 CNPC bought a 20 percent stake in Eni’s giant gas field off Mozambique while both companies are shareholders in the Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan.