Scandal-hit PetroChina tightens control over managers to keep firm running

Thu Sep 5, 2013 5:09pm EDT
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By Chen Aizhu and Charlie Zhu

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) - PetroChina (0857.HK: Quote) (601857.SS: Quote) has tightened control over its managers and stepped up safety inspections to ensure the "shock" from a deepening corruption scandal doesn't disrupt the global operations of the Chinese energy giant, officials told Reuters.

So far there have been no reports of operational problems or signs PetroChina is backing out of any deals or tenders in the wake of the investigation, which has implicated five former senior executives at PetroChina and its parent company, including ex-chairman Jiang Jiemin, in the past 10 days.

PetroChina's operations span the globe, from oil production facilities and pipelines to refineries and petrochemical projects. Its market capitalization of $232 billion makes it one of the world's most valuable oil firms.

"This is an extraordinary period. PetroChina is afraid this incident will affect normal production," said one senior PetroChina official who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

PetroChina spokesman Mao Zefeng could not be reached for comment.

The company had issued an internal memo asking director-level managers - a group numbering up to 1,000 people - to essentially clock-in each day to show they were at work, a second PetroChina official said.

He said the aim was to make sure operations were not disrupted, but also in case directors tried to flee China or were needed as part of the investigation, one of the biggest ever at a Chinese state-owned firm.

The first official said the company had "stepped up day-to-day management" and supervision of operations and was ensuring all employees reported for work daily.   Continued...

PetroChina's logo are seen at its gas station in Beijing, August 29, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon