Italian supermajor Eni SpA has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China to better cooperate on energy issues as both the company and country are targeting ambitious decarbonization goals in the coming decades.

Eni, which has been working in China since the 1980s, said it signed the MOU with China’s International Cooperation Center of the National Development and Reform Commission (ICC-NDRC). The agreement “establishes a cooperation framework aimed at facilitating joint initiatives between Eni and Chinese counterparts across the entire energy value chain in China and internationally,” the company said.

“Such a partnership allows Eni and ICC-NDRC to share knowledge and best practices, assess the impact of energy policies and market regulations, identify areas of mutual interest and develop relationships with Chinese institutions and companies at the national, provincial and municipal levels.”

Last year, Eni announced a plan to create two business groups to better manage the energy transition to alternative fuels as part of a broader decarbonization push. Eni said it plans to increase production until 2025, then begin a sharp transition toward renewables and biomethane, upending its oil and natural gas focus. 

Meanwhile, China continues to build out its natural gas midstream and upstream infrastructure, including additional LNG import capacity as it works to bolster energy security. China is the world’s second largest LNG importer behind Japan, according to the International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers. The country also is targeting a carbon-neutral economy by 2060.

LNG is seen as key to decarbonization in Asia, where coal remains a key part of the energy mix. Eni has operations across the global LNG value chain, including natural gas production, liquefaction, shipping, regasification and trading assets.

“In light of their common goals of sustainable development and energy transition to decarbonization, the parties will explore potential opportunities of collaboration focusing on low-carbon energy sources, advanced technologies and circular economy initiatives,” Eni said. 

The MOU, which was announced last week, follows another agreement the company signed just days prior with Italian investment bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and Italian midstream operator Snam to collaborate on energy transition projects. A letter of intent the companies signed is aimed at jointly developing integrated projects along “the entire energy value chain” such as those involving hydrogen, biomethane and sustainable transportation. 

Eni early last year announced its plans for the separate business groups, taking a cue from other European supermajors BP plc, Equinor ASA, Royal Dutch Shell plc and Total SE, which also have significantly stepped up efforts to transition from fossil fuels.