Refining the prize: Chinese oil refineries and its energy security

Inwook KIM, Singapore Management University


Since China became a net oil importer in 1993, oil refineries have playedintegral roles in China’s quest for oil security. And yet, the capacity, security, andconfigurations of refineries were rarely featured in the discussions about China’s oilpolicy. To fill this gap, this paper explains the basics of refinery economics andtechnology, and details the development in China’s refining industry since the early1990s. By taking refineries into consideration, it then revisits and reassesses theexisting literature regarding the motives and drivers behind China’s foreign oilpolicy, its effectiveness, and the political interactions between China and crude oilproducers.