PetroChina's Sichuan refinery has no clear start date after quake

BEIJING Fri May 3, 2013 7:34am EDT

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BEIJING May 3 (Reuters) - PetroChina has yet to decide when it will start up its new $6 billion refinery complex in China's landlocked southwest, after local residents expressed safety concerns following an earthquake two weeks ago, according to a company statement.

The company would go through "stringent check and approval procedures according to national standards," before deciding on a start-up schedule, it said in a statement published on Friday on sina.com and cited by a PetroChina media official.

PetroChina's Sichuan Petrochemical Co Ltd was earlier expected to start test runs at its 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery around mid-April, according to the engineering company building the refinery. That was a delay from an original plan to bring the plant online in December.

China's first major refinery in the landlocked southwest was reviewed by central authorities following a deadly earthquake in Sichuan in May 2008 before finally being approved.

The 38 billion yuan ($6.2 billion) investment includes a 800,000 tonnes per year ethylene complex that makes feedstocks and intermediates for petrochemicals.

PetroChina in March completed laying a crude oil pipeline linking the country's northwest to the refinery, located about 25 kilometres from Chengdu, capital of the densely populated Sichuan province.

A second PetroChina official said on Friday that a slight delay might be a good thing for the refinery, given weak fuel demand.

The Sichuan plant is expected to process crude oil from PetroChina's oilfields in the northwest -- mostly from the remote Xinjiang region -- as well as from central Asian neighbour Kazakhstan, which has been sending oil to Xinjiang via a pipeline. (Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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