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China Petrochemical Corp., the largest single refiner of oil and gas in Asia, says they plan to invest in developing 3D printing materials over the course of the next decade as they look to reduce the company’s dependence on oil production and processing.

Known as Sinopec Group, China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation says they’ll need to discover technological breakthroughs as part of their long-term planning. The company also says investments will be made in creating industrial parks, investment funds and a research institute to push innovation forward.

The Chairman of Chinese petroleum giants, Sinopec, Fu Chengyu, says the development of 3D printing materials will be a key to the success of the fifth largest company in the world.

The Chairman of Chinese petroleum giants Sinopec, Fu Chengyu, says the development of 3D printing materials will be a key to the success of the fifth largest company in the world.

Sinopec Chairman, Fu Chengyu, didn’t provide details about the plans, but analysts say new business ventures will be key to providing Sinopec with growth in the coming decade.

“It’s smart to explore opportunities in high-margin products in new materials and services businesses, as lower crude prices have choked almost every oil explorer in the world,” says Shi Yan, an analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Ltd. in Shanghai. “Sinopec wants to turn itself into China’s DuPont.”

SinopecHQSinopec is based in Beijing, China, and the company is listed in Hong Kong and trades in Shanghai and New York. It’s the world’s fifth largest company by revenue, and the world’s second largest chemical producer. As the major state-owned petroleum energy and chemicals company in China, the firm is heavily involved in oil and gas exploration, refining, production and sales of petrochemicals, chemical fibers, chemical fertilizers, and other chemical products.

In 2011, Sinopec was ranked as the 5th largest company in sales in the Forbes Global, ranked 9th by Fortune Global 500, and it was also the first Chinese corporation to make the top ten. As recently as 2007, Sinopec was ranked by Forbes as number one of the Top 500 Enterprises in China.

Established as a joint stock entity under the China Petrochemical Corporation Group (Sinopec Group) in February 2000, Sinopec Limited was then simultaneously listed on the Hong Kong, New York, and London exchanges in October 2000.

As of August 2013, Sinopec acquired a 33% stake in Apache Corporation’s oil and gas business in Egypt for $3.1 billion, and in December 2013, MCC Holding Hong Kong Corp.Ltd. and MCC Petroli Hong Kong Corp.Ltd., acquired a 18% stake of Sinopec’s oil and gas business for $9.3 billion.

Sinopec logoAnalysts say these most recent moves, particularly the company’s focus on alternative businesses like 3D printing materials development and sustainable energy, are an adjustment by the company resulting from the recent collapse of the world oil market.

Chairman Fu says 2014 was a “challenging year” for the company, but added that lower crude prices expected in 2015 forced the moves. Fu says the future of the company will change from a classic oil and gas company.  He added that Sinopec intends to change its focus from “manufacturing” to “technology.”

“I hope that after a decade or so, we’ll be a science-based petrochemical company,” Fu added, and that the development of 3D printing technologies will be key to the plans. “Research (is being) conducted to explore 3D printing businesses, and to create conditions for the development of 3D printing materials.”

What do you think about the news that the single largest business in China plans to focus a major share of their effort on developing 3D printing materials? What could this mean for the materials market in general? Let us know in the Sinopec 3D Printing Materials forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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