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PetroChina said Tuesday it had signed a preliminary agreement with Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell and Qatar Petroleum International to study building a new refinery in China.

PetroChina would have a 51 percent shareholding in the new facility, while Qatar Petroleum International and Shell would each have 24.5 percent, the companies said in a statement.

They gave no details of the facility's cost, size or location.

PetroChina's chief executive Jiang Jiemen said the project would promote and strengthen cooperation with international oil companies.

The letter of intent was signed in Qatar's capital Doha and witnessed by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is on a visit to the Middle East where he is discussing the challenges posed by soaring oil prices.

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