China environment min suspends some approvals for Sinopec, CNPC
By David Stanway and Judy Hua
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's environment ministry will stop approving some new refining projects and upgrades of existing facilities by the country's top state-owned oil firms after the two failed to meet key pollution targets in 2012, it said on Thursday.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) failed to meet targets to cut chemical oxygen demand in 2012, while Sinopec Group failed to meet a target to cut nitrogen oxide emissions.
Officials from the companies were not immediately available for comment, although the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily said the MEP's move would have no impact on 790,000 barrels per day of refining capacity now under construction.
The ministry said in a notice posted on its website (www.mep.gov.cn) that it would suspend approvals of environment impact assessments for all new refining projects from the two oil giants, apart from any upgrades that target fuel pollution specifications or other environmental renovations.
"Such tough punishment on the two oil majors is unprecedented - it is a warning to others," said Wang Tao, resident scholar at the Energy & Climate Program of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing.
"But the MEP has only suspended approval for their new refineries, and what we really need is for them to take strong measures to curb pollution from existing refineries," said Wang.
CNPC is the parent of PetroChina, China's dominant oil and gas producer. Sinopec Group is the parent of top Asian refiner Sinopec Corp.
The MEP and its local branches have struggled to impose their will on state-owned industrial enterprises, which are big sources of economic growth as well as pollution. But Beijing has promised to get tough on firms accused of ignoring environmental rules or approval procedures. Continued...