Understanding China’s Oil Infrastructure

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Although China has risen to become the world’s second-largest oil consumer, comprehensive and publicly available maps of its oil-related infrastructure remain scarce, according to experts in the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

The experts are now releasing the Baker Institute China Oil Map in the hope that an open, comprehensive and regularly updated source of vital China oil infrastructure data can help facilitate improved analysis by a broader range of participants.

Gabriel Collins, the Baker Botts Fellow in Energy and Environmental Regulatory Affairs at the Baker Institute, and Elsie Hung, a research associate at the institute, are available to discuss the map and its focus with the news media.

“We currently focus on the largest fixed infrastructure for crude oil and refined products, which means trunk pipelines, refineries and storage facilities,” Collins and Hung wrote in an introduction of the map. “Our platform is designed to be a ‘living map,’ since China’s dynamic oil sector and its associated physical footprint are continually evolving. The present map is a beta version and is likely missing some pieces of existing infrastructure. The challenge of China’s geographic expanse — it is roughly the same area as the U.S. Lower 48 — is compounded by a lack of transparency on the part of China’s government. Accordingly, as we learn of additional items, we will revise and update the map.”

The China Oil Map provides an online, interactive and comprehensive visualization of the country’s key oil infrastructure. The map’s current iteration focuses on four core categories of infrastructure: crude oil pipelines, refined product pipelines, oil refineries, and crude oil and product storage facilities. “The map strives to provide the data on a facility-by-facility level and includes as many as possible of the following data points: facility name, location, owner/operator, designed capacity and operating status,” the authors wrote. “We will frequently update the map as we learn more about infrastructure we already have included, as well as newly constructed facilities and those of which we were not aware before.”

Collins conducts a range of globally focused commodity market, energy, water and environmental research. In addition to his research on shifts in China’s domestic oil consumption structure, he focuses on oil field water issues, evolutions in the global gasoline market, water governance and groundwater valuation in Texas and the nexus between food, water and energy.

Hung’s research focuses on energy subsidy reforms in the Middle East and North Africa region and China’s energy development. She is particularly interested in GIS mapping and data visualization.


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