Tianjin oil storage facility in train

Updated: 2011-03-05 11:20

By Zhou Yan and Shen Jingting (China Daily)

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Tianjin oil storage facility in train

A strategic oil reserve stockpile is constructed in Zhenhai, Zhejiang province. A stockpile base will be built in the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, a senior official in charge of the area said on Friday. [Photo / China Daily] 

BEIJING - Construction of China's national strategic oil reserve site in Tianjin city, which will have a storage capacity of 3 million cubic meters, will begin as early as May, a city official said on Friday.

"We plan to kick off construction of the base in two to three months. Currently, we're still doing the preliminary work for the project," He Shushan, head of the administrative committee of Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, told China Daily.

Work will be completed before the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period and the city will begin filling the reserve when the oil price is "appropriate". He added that an ethylene production project with an annual production capacity of 1.2 million tons will be introduced during the same period.

The reserve site in Tianjin is among eight stockpiling bases planned in the second phase of the country's petroleum reserve project. Sites for the other bases include Zhanjiang and Huizhou in Guangdong province, Lanzhou in Gansu province, and Jintan and Jinzhou in Liaoning province.

The National Energy Administration said in its 2011 energy work plan that China will accelerate efforts to build the second phase of the strategic oil reserve to ensure energy security.

The country's accumulated strategic oil reserve capacity was 178 million barrels at the end of 2010, while commercial oil stockpiling totaled 168 million barrels. The combined reserve capacity will be approximately equivalent to 36 days of consumption, according to a report compiled by the China Petroleum & Chemical Industry Association.

China, the world's second largest oil consumer after the United States, started filling the first phase of the project with 102 million barrels in early 2009. It took 30 months to fill the first phase sites following their construction in 2006, according to reports from Reuters.

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The total capacity will be 500 million barrels when the third phase is completed, although no timetable has yet been drawn up, according to the research arm of China National Petroleum Corp, the country's biggest energy company by capacity.

China has endeavored to raise its petroleum stockpiles following heightened concerns about energy security amid the unstable global political climate.

"China faces a severe challenge in terms of energy resources," said Cao Xianghong, former senior vice-president and general engineer of China Petrochemical Corporation, the country's biggest oil refiner by capacity.

"Energy consumption (in China) is rising rapidly. However, the sustainable supply of energy resources is limited and our country is more and more dependent on imported energy," Cao said.

As the Chinese economy continues to grow, the demand for energy will become more urgent, he said, predicting that imported crude oil and petroleum products will account for 64 percent of the nation's total oil consumption by 2015, an increase from the 55 percent figure for 2010.

Cao said previous estimates of the price of global crude oil ranged between $85 and $95 per barrel, but now he expects the figure to soar to between $105 and $110 a barrel this year. "This is because of the turbulent situation in the Middle East," he said.

Cao added that China should not pursue an aggressively high growth rate and suggested that the country should reform the tax and pricing mechanisms for energy products.


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