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The Mysterious and Low-key Putian Petroleum Gang: Gas Station with an Annual Output Value of 4 Trillion

Putian people are everywhere, even on the plateau with an altitude of more than 4,000 meters, there are Putian people operating gas stations.

In April of this year, a piece of news broke on the Internet that Singapore oil dealer Xinglong Group and its subsidiaries have applied for bankruptcy protection in the courts, its founder, Lin Enqiang, was accused of concealing a loss of 5.6 billion yuan in the company’s financial statements, under investigation by the police.

The name Lin Enqiang may not have been heard by ordinary people, but in the oil industry, he is a legendary figure.

Lin Enqiang, a legendary figure in the oil industry
Lin Enqiang, a legendary figure in the oil industry

Decades ago, he broke into a world from Putian Fishing Village. His fortune story directly contributed to the birth of the Putian Petroleum Gang and made a “godfather-level” contribution to the Putian Petroleum Industry from scratch.

In 1943, Lin Enqiang was born in Shicheng Village, Daitou Town, Putian. He dropped out of high school and went to his father in Nanyang to seek to live with his mother. He started a fish business. At that time, because of the advantages of the Strait of Malacca, Singapore was already the largest oil trading center in Asia. Lin Enqiang often sees the whole process of “fuel mice” driving fishing boats to steal oil at sea.

RMB 100
RMB 100

The so-called “fuel guzzlers” are people who earn a living by stealing oil. They have a good relationship with the boss of the oil ship during the day, and they carry oil drums at night to steal and sell oil. Unable to help the temptation to make money, when he was 18, Lin Enqiang joined the team. He was bold and intelligent. Before long, he collected the oil in the hands of the fuel guzzlers and ran to sell them to major companies in Singapore that needed diesel.

After the oil stalls grew bigger and bigger, Lin Enqiang owned his own tanker and started his own company, which is the Xinglong mentioned at the beginning of the article, when he was only in his 20s. His strategy is often to buy a large amount of crude oil hoarded on the market when the price is low and then sell it after the price rises.

In 1998, Xinglong made a large order of 460,000 tons of diesel, which established Lin Enqiang’s position in Singapore’s fuel oil industry. The company also has dozens of tankers, ranking second in scale in Singapore, second only to the Singapore government For the Royal Tanker Company, there are many transactions. If Lin Enqiang does not nod and say OK, things will not be done.

In China, opportunities for oil sales businesses have also come. The refined oil retail market has begun to liberalize. The government encourages private capital to enter the market. Lin Enqiang, who has the “big brother spirit”, intends to support fellow Fujianese and help younger generations who lack experience and resources. With the completion of a complete industrial chain from oil depots, marine, and land transportation teams and railway dedicated lines, distribution centers and gas stations, the Fujian oil gang has gradually emerged.

They started to set up private gas stations across the country. By 2008, several private gas stations such as Midway Energy, Zhongneng Group, Zhongfu Group, etc. had taken shape. They were established in Liaoning, Shandong, Sichuan, Hebei, Guangdong, Inner Mongolia, the market share of Xinjiang and other places are getting higher and higher. Even on the plateau more than 4000 meters above sea level, there are people from Putian gas stations.

A gas station, China
A gas station, China

In 2010, there were more than 50,000 private gas stations nationwide, 75% of which were invested by the Putian people. Regarding how profitable it is to run a gas station, someone has calculated an account: “The cost of building a gas station is around 10 million yuan. If the profit is particularly good, it can be paid back in two years. Normally, 4-6 years.” The data shows that the annual rent of a gas station is tens of millions, and the annual output value is as high as 4 trillion.

So far, there are thousands of private enterprises engaged in oil and gas in Fujian. Most of them have billions of dollars, but they do not appear in media reports as frequently as Shanxi coal bosses. They believe in their hearts that “the best publicity is not to publicize. Just make a lot of money.”

While making a lot of money, problems have also arisen. Some people say, “The nature of the Putian system is difficult to change.” Their gas station imitates two barrels of oil from the cottage, which is easy to confuse and misunderstand. Various high-tech methods control the fuel dispensers in order to achieve the goal of reducing the burden, and use a mixture of non-standard oil and national standard oil to buy, and even directly sell low-quality non-standard diesel to make huge profits.

Zhong Gu Petroleum
Zhong Gu Petroleum

However, the Putian gas station is looking for breakthroughs in other places to create advantages. Compared with the state-owned gas stations, they dare to cut prices. The oil sold is usually about 50-1.5 yuan cheaper than the official price of three barrels of oil.

Compared with other private gas stations, they have a better sense of service. The delivery of water, paper, and a free glass of water are all routine operations. When customers are satisfied, the business will naturally be good.

In this way, amidst the negative and controversial accompaniment, the Putian bosses behind it did not affect the continued profitability.

Since the financial crisis, the market share of private gas stations has been affected. Many unstable private gas stations have withdrawn from the market, but private gas stations in Putian are still alive and well.

Just imagine, if there were no private gas stations, and all PetroChina and Sinopec were operating, how much would China’s oil price rise?

Compared with Putian Hospital, Putian’s fake shoes, Putian’s private gas station, as a very seconded commercial gang, plays a special role in the industry, because of them, the structure of China’s oil industry has not been completely monopolized by state-owned giants.

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Nancy Huang
I'm a journalist in Shenzhen, China. I have been working in several news agencies in China since 2008.


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