China Petroleum & Chemical Corp was established on 25 February 2000 as a joint stock limited company. It is a integrated energy and chemical company in China. Its principal activity include the exploration and production, pipeline transportation and sale of petroleum and natural gas; the sale, storage and transportation of petroleum products, petrochemical products, coal chemical products, synthetic fibre, fertiliser and other chemical products; the import and export, including an import and export agency business, of petroleum, natural gas, petroleum products, petrochemical and chemical products, and other commodities and technologies; and research, development and application of technologies and information. The Company has five segments: Exploration and production which explores and develops oil fields, produces crude oil and natural gas and sells such products to the refining segment of the Company and external customers; Refining which processes and purifies crude oil, which is sourced from the exploration and production segment of the Company and external suppliers, and manufactures and sells petroleum products to the chemicals and marketing and distribution segments of the Company and external customers; Marketing and distribution which owns and operates oil depots and service stations in the PRC, and distributes and sells refined petroleum products (mainly gasoline and diesel) in the PRC through wholesale and retail sales networks; Chemicals which manufactures and sells petrochemical products, derivative petrochemical products and other chemical products to external customers; Others which largely comprise the trading activities of the import and export companies of the Company and research and development undertaken by other subsidiaries. The sales and distribution channels of Petrochemicals consist of direct sales to end-users, large- and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises, and sales to distributors. The Company competes with domestic and foreign chemicals producers in the chemicals market. It owns a total of approximately 11,569 patents in China and overseas. The Company's operations are subject to various national environmental laws and regulations and also environmental regulations promulgated by the local governments.