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16

China Taking Down the Barriers

Royal Dutch Shell Group and its Chinese partner, Sinopec Corp, have been granted...

Royal Dutch Shell Group and its Chinese partner, Sinopec Corp, have been granted clearance from the Chinese oil authority for their joint gas station plan, according to industry sources.

The two companies have reportedly received government approval for the feasibility proposal on building 500 gas stations in East China's Jiangsu Province. If true, Shell will become the first overseas company to enter China's retailing market of oil products. Under China's commitment for entry into the World Trade Organization, China will open up the oil retailing market in early 2005 and the wholesale market two years later.

Shell hasn't fully confirmed the gas station report, however. Its spokesperson Lu Shali said the two companies are still in the final stage of negotiation for the joint gas station project.

With a plan to build 1,000 gas stations in China in five years, Shell expects to add its investment in the country to US $ 5 billion from the current US $ 1.6 billion, according to company officials.