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China sets higher standards for new petrochemical projects

[BEIJING] China has raised standards for new petrochemical projects to boost sector efficiency and allay public opposition to projects perceived as hazardous, the country's top economic planning agency said on Friday.

The world's top energy consumer had a total crude oil processing capacity of around 14 million barrels per day (bpd) at the end of 2014. It has been slowing the pace of expansion in the face of tighter environmental scrutiny and weakening demand growth.

It has also faced more and more protests in recent years against the construction of petrochemical plants in densely populated areas, due to pollution and safety concerns, putting the government under further pressure.

According to a petrochemical industry plan published by the National Development and Reform Commission on its website, newly built crude distillation units (CDU) should have an annual processing capacity of no less than 15 million tonnes, or 300,000 barrels per day.

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New ethylene units should have a capacity of at least 1.0 million tonne per year, it said.

Fuel produced by new refining units should meet the highest"national V" emission standards, the equivalent of Euro V, it said.

New petrochemical complexes should be built on islands, peninsulas or abandoned land.

They should also have a crude processing capacity of 40 million tonnes per year (800,000 bpd) or more and span at least 40 square kilometres, it said.

These complex should also have 6.0 million cubic metres of crude and oil products storage capacity, it added.

New paraxylene (PX) unit should reach an annual capacity of at 600,000 tonnes, while new methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) units should have a capacity of least 400,000 tonnes per year. PX and MDI projects must meet pollutant emission standards, it said.