Skip to main content

Editorial comment

With the Beijing Olympic Games fast approaching, China is poised to assume centre stage for the duration of this global spectacular. In truth, this is a position that it has seldom vacated over the past decade. With an economy that achieved an 11.9% growth in GDP last year and despite global economic setbacks, is still experiencing double digit growth in 2008, the Olympic Games look set to be a glorious £ 20 billion ‘coming of age party’ for the world’s most populous country and thriving economic superpower.


Register for a free trial »
Get started absolutely FREE in 2 minutes, no credit card required.


With the Beijing Olympic Games fast approaching, China is poised to assume centre stage for the duration of this global spectacular. In truth, this is a position that it has seldom vacated over the past decade. With an economy that achieved an 11.9% growth in GDP last year and despite global economic setbacks, is still experiencing double digit growth in 2008, the Olympic Games look set to be a glorious £ 20 billion ‘coming of age party’ for the world’s most populous country and thriving economic superpower.

As a salute to China’s role as Olympic host nation, this issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering sees Contributing Editor, Nancy Yamaguchi of Trans-Energy Research, provide an in depth assessment of the Chinese refining industry. As is typical of China, the sheer scale of the oil product market is staggering. Trans-Energy predicts that by 2010 Chinese oil demand will have reached 8.4 million bpd. Impressive when one considers that in 1974 the market was a mere 1.1 million bpd, rising to 3.1 million bpd in 1995 and 4.2 million bpd in 1999. Similarly Trans-Energy observes a growth in Chinese refining capacity from 221 000 bpd in 1964 to a current 7.3 million bpd with firm plans in place to add a further 1.8 million bpd by 2010, rising to 9.6 million bpd by 2012.

Whilst planned expansions will catapult China into second place in terms of total refining capacity behind the US, massive industrialisation throughout the People’s Republic has already seen it overtake the US as the world’s largest emitter of CO2. This ‘dubious honour’, could quite literally cast a cloud over the Olympic proceedings as could mounting political criticism of China’s tacit support of the Sudanese government and human rights concerns within its own borders. These issues will doubtless be the subject of much media speculation during the build up to the Games. Nonetheless, China is doing everything within its power to alleviate airborne pollution within the city. Not only has it removed fuel subsidies, increasing the cost of petroleum and diesel by approximately 18%, but it has introduced measures to limit Beijing car drivers to the use of their vehicles only on alternate days depending on whether the last digit of their registration plate is odd or even. Major construction work has been halted and output at several large industrial facilities, identified as contributing to poor air quality, has been scaled down. If all else fails, China plans to use anti-aircraft guns to fire rain-inducing particles into the sky to disperse the smog.

Diverting attention away from sensitive political issues will be an even greater challenge than keeping the Beijing air clean. However, China is determined that the games should not provide an arena for political grievances and despite threats of boycott and disruptions is resolute in its belief that the ‘spirit of the games’ will prevail. Furthermore the host nation is hoping that the auspicious start to the Olympics at 8.08 pm on the 8th of August 2008 will see it build on its second place in Athens 2004 and overtake the US at the top of the medal table. For China, the prestige associated with this accomplishment would indeed be an ‘honour’ worth achieving and a poignant expression of the immense progress it has made as a nation.


View profile