SINGAPORE : Chinese refining giant Sinopec Corp has appointed Zhong Fuliang, vice president of its trading arm Unipec, as the new managing director of the unit, according to a company representative.
Zhong, 54, replaces Chen Gang, who is set to hand over the managing director’s position in January after reaching the retirement age of 60.
Before the new appointment, Zhong had been in charge of crude oil procurement, trading as well as shipping for Unipec.
Sinopec is the world’s largest crude oil refiner by total capacity.
Zhong started his oil career in the early 1990s at Sinopec subsidiary refinery Zhenhai in east China, having worked for years as a planning official for Zhenhai, Sinopec’s largest and most profitable plant. He moved to become Unipec’s vice president in 2015.
“Zhong’s long work experience at Zhenhai means he is an expert of refinery economics with thorough understanding of refineries’ needs,” one industry source close to Unipec said.
Formally known as China International United Petroleum & Chemical Co, Unipec turned around 8 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined products in 2021, on par with the world’s top independent energy trader Vitol.
Unipec has also been stepping up procuring and trading of liquefied natural gas (LNG), having recently locked in large volumes of long-term supply deals with top LNG exporters Qatar and the United States.
Under Zhong’s helm, Sinopec will focus increasingly on profitablity by further boosting crude oil supplies with producers as well as the international oil majors, industry sources said.
However, the company also faces challenges in the form of slowing domestic oil demand hurt by the country’s COVID restrictions amid a global drive for energy transition, and a more complex geopolitical climate, they added.
Separately, Unipec has over the recent weeks named two new vice presidents – Wang Yuning, a former head of derivatives desk, and Zhang Guoxin, previously head of finance division, said the company representative and one of the sources.