PetroChina announced on Thursday that it pumped 2.4 million barrels a day last year, surpassing Exxon by 100,000. The company has grown rapidly over the last decade by squeezing more from Chinas ageing oil fields and outspending Western companies to acquire more petroleum reserves in places like Canada, Iraq and Qatar. Its motivated by a need to lock up as much oil as possible. The companys output increased 3.3% in 2011 while Exxons fell 5%. Exxons oil production also fell behind Rosneft, the Russian energy company.
PetroChinas rise highlights a fundamental difference in how the largest oil companies plan to supply the world as new deposits become tougher to find and more expensive to produce.