Integrated energy firm Total SA (TOT) is discussing the divestiture of its 22.4% interest in China-based West Pacific Petrochemical refinery with Chinese energy giant PetroChina Co Ltd. (PTR), as per Reuters. The petrochemical plant, which can process and refine crude oil at a rate of 200,000 barrels every day, is being operated and managed by PetroChina.
The refinery commenced operations in 1996. At that time, it was the first and only refinery in China that was allowed to export its product. However, it incurred considerable losses after the Chinese government started levying heavy export taxes on its products. Hence, Total – the first foreign company invested in the Chinese refinery market − thinks it is high time to sell its stake in West Pacific Petrochemical refinery.
France-based Total is among the top five publicly traded global integrated oil and gas companies based on production volumes, proved reserves and market capitalization. Moreover, the company has one of the best production growth profiles among the oil super majors, characterized by an upstream portfolio with above industry-average exposure to the faster growing hydrocarbon producing regions of the world.
However, a significant portion of Total’s production growth in the last few years has come from asset acquisitions, exposing it to acquisition-related risks. The company might find it difficult to venture into accretive transactions in the future, which could affect its growth rate.
As a result, the company currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), implying that it is expected to perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.
Meanwhile, one can look at better-ranked players in the energy sector like Encana Corporation (ECA) and QEP Resources Inc. (QEP). Both the stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).