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PetroChina Refinery Protest

Chinese citizens demonstrate against planned petrochemical complex near Chengdu

by Jean-François Tremblay
May 12, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 19

Protesters held a demonstration on May 4 in the streets of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in China, to oppose a refinery and petrochemical project that PetroChina has long been planning to build in their city.

According to the government-run China Daily, 200 protesters were present, but according to the New York Times, 400 to 500 protesters attended. Because they did not have a demonstration permit, the protestors reportedly walked quietly for two hours near some of the city's historical landmarks.

Chinese citizens are increasingly expressing their concern about the environment they live in. Last year, for example, protesters in Xiamen succeeded in derailing a Taiwanese-backed project to produce p-xylene near the center of that prosperous city (C&EN, June 11, 2007, page 17).

According to China Daily, the National Development & Reform Commission approved PetroChina's new complex on the outskirts of Chengdu at the end of last month. PetroChina has a 51% stake in the project, and the government of Sichuan has a 49% stake.

The project, Sichuan Petrochemical, will feature an 800,000-metric-ton ethylene plant, a 10 million-metric-ton refinery, an aromatics extraction unit, polyethylene plants, and other downstream facilities. PetroChina will build the project in Chengdu's Pengzhou area, which is 35 km from the center of the city.

PetroChina's corporate communications staff was unavailable to talk to C&EN by telephone and did not answer e-mail questions. A website describing Sichuan Petrochemical ( claims that the project underwent an environmental impact assessment study in 2006 and that the facilities will be designed to limit their impact on the environment.


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