| BEIJING, March 22
BEIJING, March 22 The head of crude oil trading
at Chinese state energy giant PetroChina has resigned
after 20 years with the company, a rare departure from a
state-owned enterprise known for retaining talent in the midst
of rapid expansion.
Li Chuang, 42, head of the crude oil department at
PetroChina's trading vehicle Chinaoil, resigned in February,
having spent the last two years leading a global team of nearly
50 crude oil traders and marketers.
Chinaoil has chosen as Li's replacement Zhang Peng, a deputy
general manager in the same department at Chinaoil who is
experienced in derivatives and risk management, said two senior
trading sources based in Beijing.
Li declined to give a reason for his resignation. The two
sources said he is on gardening leave for three months before
making his next move.
PetroChina did not respond to a request for comment.
Chinaoil in 2015 traded a record 151 million tonnes, or
roughly 3 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined fuel,
versus 22 million tonnes in 2001, posting yearly average growth
of 15 percent over that time span, according to its website.
Its volume turnover in 2015 was slightly more than that of
Swiss trader Trafigura for the same year and about
half that of Vitol, the world's largest oil dealer.
Chinaoil has since the mid-1990s grown a group of fresh
university graduates into seasoned traders and managed to keep
most of the top performers.
They include Zhao Yong, the former head of crude trading who
is now president of Chinaoil; Zheng Jun, a vice president and
another former head of crude trading; and Zhang Tong, another
vice president and formerly head of the products team.
Li said his departure would be seen as more normal from
global oil majors such as BP or Shell, adding
that Chinaoil has been the most successful in retaining talent
compared with other Chinese state traders.
Since Beijing began freeing up its oil import and export
markets in late 2015, China's independent refineries, global
majors and international commodity houses have hired away dozens
of traders from Chinese state firms such as Sinochem
and CNOOC, seeking staff with the knowledge and
skills to profit from the newly liberated sector. Chinaoil has
suffered the least number of departures.
Apart from supplying crude and trading refined fuel for
parent PetroChina's refineries in China, Chinaoil owns refinery
stakes in Japan, Singapore, Scotland and France.
It is one of the few Asia-based trading companies that
actively moves crude from Europe, the United States and Canada
back to the region.
In one highlight of Li's tenure over the last two years,
Chinaoil emerged in late 2015 as an aggressive buyer in Asia's
spot oil market, facing off with rival Unipec, trading arm of
top refiner Sinopec, in a battle for influence over
the region's crude benchmark.
(Reporting by Chen Aizhu in BEIJING, with additional reporting
by Florence Tan in SINGAPORE; Editing by Tom Hogue)