December 29, 2011 / 5:10 AM / 8 years ago

China revamps energy mkt access for foreign investors

BEIJING, Dec 29 (Reuters) - China has increased restrictions on foreign investment in its refining sector, while encouraging participation in developing unconventional oil and gas resources, the latest guidelines published by the National Development and Reform Commission show.

The government will restrict foreign investment in building and operating refineries with crude oil distillation capacity of less than 200,000 barrels per day, up from a previous threshold of 160,000 bpd.

Investment in catalytic cracking capacity below 1.5 million tonnes per year, hydrocracking capacity below 1.5 million tpy and continuous reforming capacity below 1 million tpy will also be restricted.

The guidelines, which become effective from Jan. 30 next year, did not specify the restrictions on such projects.

The government will encourage foreign investment in exploration and development of unconventional oil resources including shale oil, oil sands and heavy oil, and unconventional gas resources including shale gas and seabed gas hydrate through joint ventures or cooperation deals with domestic companies.

Earlier guidelines issued in 2007 only permitted cooperation deals in these areas.

The government removed guidelines that previously encouraged foreign investment in ethylene production projects with an annual capacity of 800,000 tpy and a controlling stake held by Chinese partners.

Beijing also removed large coal-to-chemical projects from the list of investment sectors allowed in the 2007 guidelines.

The government will also encourage foreign investment in electric vehicle charging and battery swap stations, but will restrict participation in construction and operation of utility infrastructure such as gas, heat and water in cities with populations of more than 500,000. (Reporting by Jim Bai and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Chris Lewis)

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