Zhejiang provincial government is expecting that oil and gas can help drive forward economic growth in the eastern Chinese region, with Zhejiang hosting the 1st International Petroleum and Natural Gas Enterprises Conference in Hangzhou on Sept 18-19.
More than 400 people from over 40 countries and regions attended the conference, including representatives from leading oil and gas companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and Saudi Aramco.
Zhejiang is more famous for its light manufacturing than its heavy industry, but the province believes that new policy initiatives are opening up new opportunities for its oil and gas industry.
Policies such as the Belt and Road Initiative, the Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone and especially the creation of the China (Zhejiang) Free Trade Zone, which was established in April, are all likely to make Zhejiang more attractive to foreign investors.
"We'd like to deepen cooperation with global enterprises on innovation and the advancement of the petroleum and gas industry at the conference," said Che Jun, Party secretary of Zhejiang, in his address to the IPEC.
The island city of Zhoushan, where the Zhejiang FTZ is located, is already an important base for oil imports and storage, with half of China's imported crude oil passing through Zhoushan customs.
Zhejiang plans to boost the oil trade further by building the FTZ into a demonstration zone for the opening-up of ocean gateways and liberalizing trade in bulk commodities, according to the FTZ.
Foreign companies and relevant agencies are welcome to look for opportunities at the Zhejiang FTZ and strive for a win-win result as Zhejiang strives to develop the industry, said Nur Bekri, head of the National Energy Administration, on Monday.
The Zhejiang government hopes that the extra foreign investment it attracts through these policies will also help it acquire valuable expertise, which it can use to make its oil and gas industry more competitive.
Discussions on the first day of the conference covered a wide range of subjects, including maritime services, oil trade and green development.
These talks turned out to be fruitful, with several international companies announcing that they would step up investment in Zhejiang.
On the afternoon of Sept 18, deals for 20 projects worth 57.4 billion yuan ($8.7 billion) were signed, including a contract between BP Group and Zhejiang Energy Group. The main focuses of the projects include oil storage, transport, trade and processing.
Mats Fredriksson, vice president of the Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil ASA, said that his company was looking for potential Chinese regions with which to discuss further cooperation, and the information about Zhejiang's development and its FTZ construction made him believe that Zhoushan might be a good choice.
The general manager of China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Liu Jian also announced that the State-owned enterprise would strongly support Zhejiang FTZ to make innovations in oil refueling.