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Top Ten Investment Projects in 2004
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In 2004, China witnessed the launch, construction and initial operation of many major investment projects. In late December, China Investment published its list of the nation's top ten projects for the year.

1. Yichang-Wanzhou Railway Breaks Ground

Construction began in February of the long-awaited railway linking Yichang, in east China's Hubei Province, and Wanzhou, near Chongqing Municipality in the southwest. It is the most challenging mountain railway ever constructed, and will cost 17 billion yuan (US$2.1 billion).

The 378-kilometer line will pass through Yidu, Changyang, Badong, Jianshi, Enshi and Lichuan on its way to Wanzhou. It will also encounter underground lakes, caves and landslide and fault zones along 70 percent of the route.

It will have the highest number of bridges (183) and tunnels (114) in China, accounting for 71 percent of its total length. More than half of the line's 24 stops will be built on bridges and the remainder will be in tunnels.

The railway also sets a record in construction cost at 45 million yuan (US$5.4 million) per kilometer. In contrast, the Jitong Railway, which traverses the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and was completed in 1995, cost about 19 million yuan (US$2.3 million) per kilometer to build.

2. China's First Coal-to-liquid-fuel Plant Gets Green Light in Shaanxi

In March, the country's first coal-to-liquid-fuel plant got the green light for construction in Shenmu County, western China's Shaanxi Province. Investment in the plant will total 200 billion yuan (US$24.2 billion), with 30 billion yuan (US$3.6 billion) budgeted for Phase One. When completed, the plant is expected to have an annual production capacity of 20 million tons of clean-burning, finished fuel products.

The plant uses a process in which steam and oxygen are passed over coke at high temperatures and pressures, producing hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which are then reassembled into liquid fuels. Sulfur and other pollutants such as ash and mercury are removed, producing gasoline and diesel that are high grade and clean.

The China Shenhua Coal-to-Liquid-Fuel Co. began preparing the project years ago, establishing a team with Shenhua Group and Ningxia Coal Industry Group. They are partnering with Sasol Ltd. of South Africa to construct the facility.

3. Capital Airport Expansion Takes Off

The expansion of the Beijing Capital International Airport began on March 28, 2004, part of the city's preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games. It includes construction of a third runway, a third terminal building, a cargo zone and some auxiliary communication, water and oil supply projects. The project, covering an area of 1,480 hectares, will cost 19.5 billion yuan (US$2.3 billion) and be completed by 2007.

The enlarged airport will be able to accommodate 60 million passengers and 1.8 million tons of cargo, with 500,000 arrivals a year, the transport volume predicted for the year 2015.

The contracts include earthworks and drainage at three key sub-projects: the T3B terminal building, a communication center and a runway.

A team comprising Dutch airport planners Naco BV, architects Foster and Partners and engineers Arup won the bid to build the new terminal building. The building will feature quick transfer time, an automated, high-speed luggage sorting and transfer system and an advanced information system.

4. Pubugou Hydropower Station Begins Construction

On March 30, the Pubugou hydropower station broke ground alongside the Dadu River in southwestern Sichuan Province, a significant move in China's development of its western region.

Located in Hanyuan County, the station is the largest water conservancy project in Sichuan, with an installed capacity of 3.3 million kilowatts. It will annually generate 14.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. Construction is scheduled to take eight years and seven month to complete.

The project includes a reservoir for power generation, flood control and silt blocking. It involves a large number of resident relocations, complicated geology and a narrow construction site, making it a hard nut to crack for developing resources on the Dadu River.

5. Guangdong LNG Import Project Launched

On April 30, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), BP -- the world's largest oil company -- and the Guangdong government signed a commercial contract on liquefied natural gas (LNG) on April 30. It marked the official launch of the Guangdong LNG import project and a milestone in the implementation of China's pilot LNG imports from Australia.

With a total investment of 29.5 billion yuan, the first phase of the project involves the construction of an LNG import terminal, trunk line system, four gas power stations, an oil-to-gas power plant, and gas supply project for four cities in the Pearl River Delta and two Hong Kong LNG users. It will be completed in 2006. 

6. First Domestically Made Commercial Nuke Power Station Completed

On May 3, the No. 2 generating unit of the second stage of the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant formally went into commercial operation. The No. 1 and No. 2 generating units of the first large power station for commercial use designed, built, managed and operated by the Chinese were already in operation. The station stands out as one of notable landmarks in the progress of China's nuclear power construction, by which China has made the leap from producing small prototype nuclear stations to large commercial ones.

Construction of the Qinshan power plant was a key project of the state's Eighth Five-Year Plan (1992-97). Work on the main part of the project began on June 2, 1996. The installed capacity includes two 600,000-kilowatt nuclear power generators, costing 14.8 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion), with a designed operating life of 40 years. A total of 47 of the 55 key large pieces of equipment so far completed were domestically made.

The No. 1 generating unit went into operation on April 15, 2002, 47 days ahead of schedule, and has maintained safe, stable and reliable operation. The No. 2 generating unit was synchronized with two power grids in March 11 this year and began generating electricity.

7. Laxiwa Hydropower Station Project Granted Authorization

In June, the State Council approved the largest hydroelectric project in the northwest, Laxiwa Hydropower Station. Located on the main trunk of the Yellow River of Qinghai Province at the juncture of Guide County and Guinan counties, the power station has an installed capacity of 4.2 million kilowatts and an annual average generated energy of 10.2 billion kilowatts. Total project investment is 14.8 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion).

The damming of the riverbed was completed on January 9, 2004 and the first generating unit is expected to go into operation in 2008. The key structures include a concrete hyperbolic arch dam and underground water diversion generating system, with the height of dam reaching 250 meters. The power station will become the core of the northwest power network and will contribute to the west-to-east electricity transmission plan.

8. CNOOC Undertakes China's Largest Oil Refining Project

On August 3, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) received the government green light for its South China Sea petrochemical refining project, a major part of CNOOC's effort to become a comprehensive international energy corporation.

Located in the western South China Sea petrochemical ethylene project in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, the CNOOC project involves investment of 16.7 billion yuan (US$20.2 billion). Processing 12 million tons of high acid content crude oil annually, it will be one of the country's largest oil refineries. Construction is scheduled to begin at the end of 2005 and the plant to go into operation in 2008.

When it is complete, the refinery will provide materials for South China Sea petrochemical ethylene project. By cross-providing materials and sharing facilities, the two plants will be mutually complementary, reducing costs and raising the company's overall profitability.

9. Crude/Refined Oil Pipeline Project Construction Under Way

In September, construction of the crude and refined oil pipeline in the northwest region formally began. An 8.8-kilometer trial section was constructed in Shanshan County, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, opening a new line for oil transport in the region.

The project includes two main lines and seven branch lines, with the line from Shanshan to Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province, stretching 1,550 kilometers. It will be capable of transporting up to 20 million tons of crude oil from the Tarim, Tuha and Beijiang oilfields.

The refined oil pipeline stretches 1,840 kilometers from Urumqi to Lanzhou, with a designed capacity of 10 million tons. It is scheduled to go into operation at the end of 2005. The crude oil pipeline will be completed in 2006.

Total pipeline length is 3,986 kilometers, stretching across 25 Xinjiang and Gansu counties.

The project, with the largest designed capacity, longest distance and highest pressure in the country, was designed and is being built by the China National Petroleum Corporation with a total investment of 14.6 billion yuan (US$17.6 billion).

The construction of the pipeline will form a strategic west-east energy supply corridor.

10. West-to-east Natural Gas Pipeline Begins Operating

At 9:00 AM on October 1, China's National Day, natural gas started pumping through the huge west-to-east pipeline, sending fuel from the Tarim and Changqing gas fields in western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Shaanxi Provinces to Shanghai.

Construction of the 4,000-kilometer-long pipeline began on July 4, 2002, and cost more than 140 billion yuan (US$16.9 billion). It will transmit 12 billion cubic meters of gas a year. The pipeline traverses Xinjiang, Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Zhejiang. The completion of the project will boost the development of Xinjiang, adjust the energy structure of the Yangtze River Delta area, and help to reduce air pollution.

(China Investment, translated by Guo Xiaohong and Li Jingrong for China.org.cn January 5, 2005)


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