China has given private refineries the greenlight to import crude oil, opening up a heavily-monopolized sector.
The Ministry of Commerce on Thursday specified the requirements for non-state companies to import crude. Qualified firms must have an annual refining capacity of over 2 million tonnes and meet efficiency and environmental standards. They should also have storage capacity for no less than 300,000 tonnes of crude, with terminals that can handle more than 50,000 tonnes.
China is one of the world's largest oil buyers. Nearly 60 percent of its oil consumption comes from imports. Crude imports are dominated by state-run giants such as Sinopec, China National Petroleum Corporation and China National Offshore Oil Corporation.
There are more than 20 qualified non-state importers, but they have limited quotas.
In August 2014, Xinjiang Guanghui Petroleum Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Guanghui Energy Co. Ltd., secured government approval to import crude, the first private enterprise authorized to do so since 2008.