China appoints new chairmen at top three oil companies

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China has appointed new chairmen for the country's top three energy groups, according to company statements on Monday, in a top-down reshuffle of the industry which faces the challenges of spending cuts, low oil prices and easing demand.

Earlier on Monday the state-owned Sinopec Group said its chairman, Fu Chengyu, has retired. Sinopec Group is the majority owner of Sinopec Corp, Asia's largest oil refiner.

Fu, the industry's most recognized executive, will be succeeded by Wang Yupu, a former deputy director of China Academy of Engineering and an oil industry veteran, with prior experience of working at Daqing, the country's biggest oil field.

Fu, who turns 64 in June, became Sinopec's chairman in April 2011 after more than 30 years with China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), the country's third-largest oil and gas firm.

Meanwhile it was also announced on Monday that CNOOC's current chairman, Wang Yilin, has been appointed chairman of China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), replacing Zhou Jiping, who will retire.

In turn Wang's chairmanship at CNOOC has been handed to Vice Chairman Yang Hua. CNOOC is parent of CNOOC Ltd.

Wang, previously a deputy general manager of CNPC, was made chairman of CNOOC in 2011.

Sinopec and PetroChina reported a more than 80 per cent slide in their first-quarter profits as sharply lower crude prices hit their upstream earnings and resulted in inventory write-downs at their refining businesses.

CNOOC Ltd posted a 40 per cent slide in its first quarter revenue.

In reaction to a deepening government-led corruption probe in the state sector, PetroChina and Sinopec have also been cutting capital spending and selling off downstream assets over the past year.

They have vowed to focus more on returns than expansion, which has been driven in part by a series of aggressive overseas acquisitions in recent years.

Last September Sinopec also unveiled a plan to sell a US$17.5 billion stake in its sprawling retail business, marking the country's biggest privatisation push since President Xi Jinping came to power.

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