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China's NDRC starts refinery survey to monitor fuel quality

2013-10-18 12:00 View:

Chemical News

China's NDRC starts refinery survey to monitor fuel quality upgrades   Oct 17,2013 Platts

China's NDRC starts refinery survey to monitor fuel quality upgrades

China's National Development and Reform Commission said Tuesday that it has been conducting a survey of domestic refineries to ensure they meet industrial standards and are adhering to fuel quality upgrades.

The survey started in late September and will last two months.

It will cover all refineries in China, excluding facilities in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, it said.

The survey will look at refineries' overall operations, installed capacity, production, technological capability and environmental standards, among others, the NDRC said.

China's state refiners, led by Sinopec or China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., and PetroChina, have been aggressively upgrading their refinery units in the last year to produce fuels compliant with National Phase IV standards, which limit sulfur levels to 50 ppm.

Sinopec has set an internal deadline for all its refineries to start producing Phase IV-compliant gasoline by this month, ahead of the government's deadline for the nationwide transition by the start of 2014.

PetroChina has also largely converted most of its refineries to produce Phase IV-compliant gasoline, and the company will fully comply with the government deadline by the end of this year, a spokesman said Wednesday. Some of its units have also started producing Phase V-compliant gasoline, which caps sulfur at 10 ppm.

"We plan to fully comply with the government deadline and will move to upgrade our refineries to produce Phase IV gasoil before the end of 2014," he said.

Independent refineries, commonly known as teapot refineries, and concentrated in the eastern Shandong province, will also be included in the NDRC's ongoing refinery survey, sources said Wednesday.

These refineries are also required to stick to the government deadlines for the introduction of the cleaner fuels, although many are still unable to produce low-sulfur oil products as their main feedstock is imported straight-run fuel oil.

In addition, many also lack the financial resources to invest in new hydrocrackers and gasoline hydrotreaters and are lagging behind in their upgrades, sources said.

One source with independent refiner Shandong Qingyuan Petrochemical said "no more than 10 teapot refineries are able to produce Phase IV gasoline and gasoil" at the moment. This is a fraction of the teapot refineries in Shandong, which are believed to number more than 35, with topping capacity of just over 2 million b/d.

Following the January 2014 deadline for Phase IV-compliant gasoline to be implemented, China will move toward Phase IV-compliant gasoil by the end of 2014. Phase V standards are to be introduced by the end of 2017 across the country, although they are already in place in some areas, including Beijing and some cities along the eastern and southern coast.   

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