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Open-Source Mapping Of China's Energy Infrastructure

By Elsie Hung, Research Manager, Center for Energy Studies, Gabriel Collins, J.D., Baker Botts Fellow in Energy & Environmental Regulatory Affairs, and Michelle Michot Foss, Ph.D., Fellow in Energy and Minerals

 

(See map updates here)

 

We are releasing the Baker Institute China Energy Map in the hope that an open, comprehensive and regularly updated source of vital China energy infrastructure data can help facilitate improved analysis by a broad range of participants. The map can be accessed directly by clicking here. Figure 1 provides a snapshot of the map with every facility visible in its most zoomed-out incarnation.

 

Figure 1: Baker Institute China Energy Map Snapshot

Map plotted by Elsie Hung, Center for Energy Studies. 

 
What Does the Baker Institute China Energy Map Currently Show?

The China Energy Map provides an online, interactive and comprehensive visualization of China’s key energy infrastructure. Since the first release of the Baker Institute China Oil Map in February 2019, the map has evolved significantly and continues to grow. In addition to the existing oil infrastructure layers, including (1) crude oil pipelines, (2) refined product pipelines, (3) oil refineries, (4) crude oil and products storage facilities, and (5) oil ports, as of July 2020 we have mapped three new layers: (6) coal power plants, (7) nuclear power plants, and (8) EV battery factories to more accurately capture China’s complete energy system.

Click here for an independent interactive time slider map on the relationship between China’s power fleet and rising EV industry.

By clicking each icon or line on the map, facility level information is displayed in the popup tooltip, including: facility name, operator, status, year online, designed capacity, and additional infrastructure details. As of July 2020, the China Energy Map had the following total coverage by infrastructure type:

  • Crude oil pipelines: 98 pipelines with a total length of 25,430 km and total throughput capacity of 23 million bpd (MBD);
  • Refined product pipelines: 87 pipelines with a total network length of 27,945 km and a total throughput capacity of 7.7 MBD;
  • Oil refineries: 208 facilities with 22.3 MBD of processing capacity;
  • Oil storage facilities: 288 facilities with approximately 1.12 billion barrels of total storage capacity (crude oil: 74 facilities with 764.3 million barrels of capacity; refined products: 214 facilities with 359.4 million barrels of capacity);
  • Oil ports: 61 docking facilities for oil tankers with a total throughput capacity of 15.3 MBD;
  • Coal power plants: 2,956 power stations with a total installed capacity of 1,145 GW, 997 GW of which are currently in operation;
  • Nuclear power plants:114 reactors with a total installed capacity of 95 GW. 45 GW are operational; and
  • EV battery factories:185 facilities, 176 of which are online, 8 are under construction and 1 has been announced.
     

Table 1: China Energy Map Data Coverage Compared to Public Estimates

 

Indicators

China Energy Map Tabulated Capacity

Most Recent Publicly Available Capacity Estimate

Year of Estimate Baseline Data

Crude pipelines length (thousand km)

25.4

28.7

2017

Crude pipelines capacity (MBD)

23.0

14.5

2018

Refined pipelines length (thousand km)

27.9

27.2

2017

Refined pipelines capacity (MBD)

7.7

4.9

2015

Oil refineries capacity (MBD)

22.7

17.3

2019

Crude storage capacity (MBBL)

764

760

 2020

Product storage capacity (MBBL)

359

N/A

 

Oil port throughout capacity (MBD)

15.3

N/A

 

Coal power plants operating capacity (GW)

997

1040

2019

Nuclear power plants operating capacity (GW)

45

49

2019

EV battery factories (number of units)

185

N/A

 

Sources: National Development and Reform Commission of China, http://www.ndrc.gov.cn/zcfb/zcfbtz/201701/W020170119333354977981.pdf;
Ruining Hou, January 16, 2019, https://www.jiemian.com/article/2798250.html;
Shivani Singh and Muyu Xu, Jan 16, 2020, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-economy-output-oil/chinas-2019-and-december-crude-oil-runs-hit-record-highs-idUSKBN1ZG0AS;
Muyu Xu, Shu Zhang, and Devika Krishna Kumar, Feb 13, 2020, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-health-oil-storage/stranded-tankers-full-storage-tanks-coronavirus-leads-to-crude-glut-in-china-idUSKBN2072NR;
China Electricity Council, April 26, 2020, https://www.cec.org.cn/detail/index.html?1-281670.

 

Future Directions

The data collated and presented to date in the map account for a significant portion of total known capacity in China. We will frequently update the map as we learn more about infrastructure we already have included, as well as newly constructed facilities and those we were not aware of before.

An immediate focus centers on the question of what is missing from the China Energy Map that could make it better. One weakness of the existing map is that it provides solid coverage of asset stock and designed capacity, but not the physical flows through that stock. Accordingly, the map would benefit greatly from including real time data[1] that could be updated on a regular basis, such as pipeline flow, refinery runs, inventory changes, tanker offloading, and real-time electricity output by plant.

As the map continues to evolve, we plan to include additional infrastructure layers such as EV manufacturing sites, battery mineral mines and processing plants, and ultimately natural gas infrastructure (pipelines, storage sites, LNG terminals and processing plants) to the China Energy Map. We welcome formal and informal collaboration with other parties who would like to provide data that enhances the map, and who are willing to do so under an open source philosophy. Interested parties can contact the author(s) at elsie.hung@rice.edu.


Appendix I: Data and Methodology

Data

Data sources included, but were not limited to:

  • The 2012 China Petroleum Map by ARA International Limited (for names of pipelines and storage facilities);
  • Bloomberg Professional Service(for names of refineries);
  • The Oil and Gas Journal World Wide Refinery Survey 2018;
  • 13th Five-Year Plan for Energy Development Appendix I and II (oil and gas) by China’s National Development and Reform Commission;
  • 13th Five-Year Plan for Transportation system by China’s State Council;
  • Infopetro.com;
  • Global Coal Plant Tracker by Global Energy Monitor;
  • World Nuclear Association;
  • China’s National Nuclear Safety Association;
  • White Lists” of EV battery suppliers in compliance with industry standards 1-4 in 2015 and 2016;
  • bjx.com.cn(北极星儲能网); and
  • Online press releases by operating companies.

Data displayed on the China Energy Map has been confirmed with multiple sources before mapping. Specifically, with the difficulties to track individual EV battery manufacturers, we verified each EVB facility with 2019/2020 job postings in addition to company websites/lookup pages. The facility is omitted from the database if: 1) no factory sites are seen on the satellite image, 2) the address found indicates a suit/office building, or 3) the address refers to previously established company.

Technical Framework

We created the initial list of facility names based on the sources listed above, and built the database of China’s energy infrastructure using a deep internet search to collect as much facility-level information as possible. Relevant data included name, location (latitude/longitude coordinates), owner/operator, designed capacity, operating status, and the year the facility entered service.

We targeted five primary oil and three electricity infrastructure groups: crude pipelines, refined product pipelines, oil refineries, oil storage facilities, oil ports, coal power plants, nuclear power plants, and EV battery factories. The majority of data was extracted from individual press releases and news articles written in Mandarin Chinese. The specified facility capacity for oil infrastructure was generally converted from 10,000 metric tons (per year), which is conventional for the Chinese oil sector, to a thousand barrels (per day) using the CME Group conversion calculator, which uses a ratio of 7.33 barrels per metric ton of crude oil.[2]

Next we mapped individual infrastructure groups in vector layers (i.e., lines and points) with attribute information using QGIS, an open source GIS application. With these geospatial data, we built the online map utilizing Mapbox, a web-based GIS platform, and added interactivity with Javascript. We will continue to improve the user interface and appearance of this beta version map. The data is expected to be updated quarterly to reflect any new addition, expansion, and retirement of facilities.

Descriptions of Data Layers in the China Oil Map

  • Oil Ports: This layer displays oil wharves and docking facilities that are planned, under construction, or currently operating. The coordinates are highly accurate. 
  • Oil Storage: This layer includes both crude oil and refined product storage facilities that are either operating or under construction as of the most recent update. Ninety-five percent of the facility coordinates in this layer are highly accurate. We hope to include the oil tank breakdown in the future.
  • Oil Refineries: This layer displays oil refineries that are currently operating. The coordinates of each refinery are highly accurate.
  • Crude Pipelines: This layer displays all crude oil pipelines that are operating or under construction. If international, only the sections that are within the Chinese border are included, e.g., the Russia-China and Myanmar-China crude pipelines. The location accuracy of this layer falls into the medium range. We sketched the pipeline routes by assigning and connecting each pump station at the center of a specific city or town.
  • Refined Product Pipelines: This layer includes all refined product pipelines that are planned, under construction, or currently operating. The same mapping method was applied to this layer as the crude pipelines, thus the location accuracy of this layer should be deemed only descriptive and best displayed at the national and provincial level.
  • Coal Power Plants: This layer includes all coal power plants by individual unit that are announced, permitted, under construction and currently operational. The coordinates of each unit are highly accurate. Power plant type data (subcritical, supercritical, or ultra-supercritical) is also included in this layer.
  • Nuclear Power Plants: This layer displays planned, under construction, and operational nuclear power plants by reactor unit. The coordinates are highly accurate. Facility level details also include reactor technology.
  • EV Battery Factories: This layer includes planned, under construction, and currently operating factory sites that manufacture batteries for electric vehicles. Ninety-four percent of the facility coordinates are highly accurate. Additional information on this layer includes ownership structure (domestic, foreign, or joint venture).
  • Satellite Basemap: Map uses the Mapbox Satellite layer.

Map interactive functions

  • Clickable tooltips of facility-level information;
  • Toggleable infrastructure layer display with satellite base map;
  • Facilities search bar and pop-up tooltips when hovering over search results;
  • Cluster display; and
  • Navigation controls

 

Endnotes

[1] See, for instance, Gabriel Collins and Elsie Hung, "Using Satellite Data to Crack the Great Wall of Secrecy Around China’s Internal Oil Flows," Baker Institute Report no. 09.07.18. Baker Institute for Public Policy, Houston, Texas. https://www.bakerinstitute.org/research/using-satellites-study-chinese-oil/

[2] https://www.cmegroup.com/tools-information/calc_crude.html