Employees spray water to cool down oil tanks at a PetroChina oil storage facility in Suijing, Sichuan Province, China
Employees spray water to cool down oil tanks at a PetroChina oil storage facility in Suijing, Sichuan Province, China

China's biggest oil and gas producer, PetroChina is looking to expand its presence in Australia with acquisitions to the tune of $3.7bn, to meet the country's rapidly growing energy demand, according to a report in Bloomberg.

"As one of the key markets in our Asia and Pacific operations, PetroChina is willing to expand our presence in Australia when a good opportunity arises," Mao Zefeng, a company spokesman told Bloomberg.

In December, the company had entered into an agreement with BHP Billiton to acquire a stake in the Browse project in Western Australia for $1.63bn.PetroChina is reportedly looking to invest about $60bn globally this decade.

Chinese energy companies have, of late, been aggressively entering into deals overseas as the country's booming economy has boosted demand. Acquisitions had reached a record level over the past year as the government decided to support the sector with increased funding.

Last month, PetroChina had entered into a series of agreements with the US based firm ConocoPhillips to acquire stakes in two Australian projects and collaborate on shale gas production. PetroChina's rival Sinopec has also been active in the region, partnering in the LNG project on Queensland's Curtis Island being developed by ConocoPhillips and Origin Energy.

Analysts suggest that the trend is set to continue as Chinese companies look to secure themselves for the longer term. China is well supplied for the decade and at the moment, they are more interested in the resources than the production.

"There will be more M&A to come as Chinese companies look to secure long-term resources positions to meet future LNG demand," said Neil Beveridge, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. told Bloomberg.

"China remains confident in further long-term expansion in Australia."

Australia is expected to overtake Qatar as the world's biggest LNG producer by around 2018. International energy giants such as Chevron are keen to exploit the country's vast shale resources.