Former China oil tycoon plots return with Canadian gas venture

Tue Mar 18, 2014 5:02pm EDT
 
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By Chen Aizhu

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese oil tycoon, who lost his fortune after being jailed for embezzlement in 2007, aims to make his comeback with an ambitious project in Canada to export gas back to his homeland.

Gong Jialong, a truck-driver-turned-entrepreneur, ran China's largest private oil firm in the 1990s before China shook up the sector to create two state energy giants, Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corporation.

His Tianfa Group had a market capitalization of 17 billion yuan ($2.81 billion) at its peak, but things fell apart when in 2006 Gong was arrested and later jailed for fund embezzlement and the improper disclosure of information for a listed firm.

Gong's empire was swiftly broken up and most of the business was sold to state-owned firms at a government auction.

Freed in 2008, his conviction was overturned in 2011 on appeal.

Following his release, Gong invested in two small oil and gas producers in Alberta, Canada, and has set up a firm to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Stewart, a tiny port on British Columbia's northwest coast.

"I am fascinated by natural gas...the project we're planning is similar to what I used to be involved in," said Gong, 60, speaking in his downtown Beijing office, with resource maps of Canada hanging on the walls.

Canada Stewart Energy Group Ltd, set up with a local partner, applied to Canadian regulators on March 5 for a license to export 30 million tons of gas a year, the biggest quota applied for by any firm so far.   Continued...