Short items

PetroChina strikes oil deal in Africa

PetroChina and the government of Niger signed a deal on 2 June to jointly develop the Ajadym oil block, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. The Chinese State oil firm plans to spend US$5 billion over the next three years to develop the block - which has the West African country’s largest proven oil reserves - as well as to build a 2000-kilometre pipeline and a refinery with annual processing capacity of one million tonnes. 

Separately, PetroChina announced on 
3 June that it would suspend non-petroleum exploitation projects worth 20.7 billion yuan (US$3 billion) to further focus on oil and gas exploration. Analysts believe the refinery wing of the company will lose US$20 billion in 2008. 

Chemical accidents 

Sinopec Maoming Petrochemical Co, located in China’s southern province of Guangdong, stopped production at two of its 10 ethylene cracking facilities after a blaze at a plant on 3 June. The firm is China’s largest ethylene producer, accounting for 10 per cent of national output. The fire, which started after a lightening strike, did not cause any injuries but has pushed up the price of polyethylene.  

On 7 June, a traffic accident in Yunnan Province led to over 30 tonnes of phenol leaking into the drinking water supply of 20,000 people. On 12 June, hydrogen sulfide leaking from a fertiliser factory in Kunming 
of Yunnan killed six people and injured another 12. 

Pollutant emissions decreased 

Emissions of major pollutants fell in 2007, according to figures released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection on 3 June. Solid waste emissions fell 8.1 per cent to 11.97 million tonnes. Sulfur dioxide emissions and COD (chemical oxygen demand) were down by 4.66 per cent and 3.14 per cent respectively to 24.7 and 13.8 million tonnes. 

Urban air quality has also improved slightly, with 60.5 per cent of cities reaching the second or highest level of the nation’s three grades for urban air.  

But water pollution remains a serious problem, with 23.6 per cent of river water not reaching even the lowest of China’s five water quality grades.