Guangdong plans large joint-stock oil refinery

A joint-stock oil refinery involving a total investment of $5 billion will be built in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, a local official said in Beijing on Monday.

The refinery is designed to process 15 million tons of crude annually, said Li Miaojuan, Guangdong Provincial Development and Reform Commission director and a deputy to the 11th National People’s Congress, the top legislature.

It is scheduled to be built on Sanmin Island and operational in 2010.

"This refinery is important to the economic development of Guangdong," Li said.

An economic powerhouse of China, Guangdong has seen the demand for refined oil far outpace supply in recent years, with about 10 million tons of oil products imported annually.

Approved by the National Development and Reform Commission at the end of last year, the project involves China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, the Guangdong government and Kuwait National Petroleum Co.

Crude will be imported from Kuwait for processing at the refinery.

However, just before the ongoing annual sessions of the national legislature and top political advisory body, 14 national legislators from Guangdong called for rethinking of the project citing environmental concerns.

"The project will be assessed by the provincial environmental protection bureau before it gets approval from the State Environmental Protection Administration," said Chen Min, vice head of the provincial environmental protection bureau. He added a public hearing might be held if necessary.

A major pollutant of refineries is sulphur dioxide, according to Li. He noted, "The bigger a project is, the higher its environmental standard."

"We would not build the refinery if it couldn’t pass an environmental assessment."

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