China Energy Programme

Launched in 2019 the OIES China Energy Research Programme, is a center of analytical excellence offering insights into the factors that inform China’s energy policies and choices and their pivotal role in global energy markets.

China is the world’s second largest economy, biggest importer of crude oil, the fastest growing consumer of natural gas as well as the world’s top coal producer and emitter of CO2. The country is endowed with vast reserves of oil, gas and coal all of which it aims to develop in order to enhance its energy security, but, it is also seeking to spearhead a technological revolution in support of its energy transition. 

In light of its voracious appetite for energy, its domestic resource potential and its technological ambitions, the way in which China chooses to develop its domestic resource base, consume energy and engage with global markets is of extreme importance to producers, consumers and traders of energy. But the country’s command economy, alongside the dominance of state-owned companies still inform policy design and implementation and are key to understanding the evolution of China’s energy mix and markets.

The China Energy Programme at OIES delves into these developments and offers insights into the factors that inform China’s energy policies and choices.

Research is structured around three main themes:

  • Macro the programme analyses the macroeconomic and political environment in China: what are the government’s policy priorities and how do they impact energy demand? To what extent do the country’s political and governance frameworks help or hinder achieving these goals? The programme assesses various government-set targets and the extent to which the political imperative to meet them could turn them into disruptive events. How will market liberalisation develop, and how will it impact relations between state owned incumbents and private and foreign companies? How does China’s foreign policy relate to its energy goals? What does China’s 2060 carbon neutrality pledge mean for the energy sector and investments along the Belt and Road?
  • Mix what will China’s energy transition mean for its energy mix? How does China think about peak coal and oil and what are the implications for gas consumption? Are the government’s environmental policies sustainable in a low growth environment? Can China replicate its PV success with EVs and more advanced technologies?
  • Markets the programme also monitors short term developments in the oil and gas markets in China. It assesses how China is shaping short term prices and market sentiment and also considers Beijing’s efforts to establish pricing hubs and become an active price maker.

Programme Sponsors

  • BP
  • Cheniere
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, UK (DESNZ)
  • Equinor
  • Ministry of Defence, UK
  • Oxford Economics
  • Saudi Aramco
  • Tellurian
  • TotalEnergies
  • Vitol
  • William Callanan

The Programme is grateful to its Sponsors for their support, without which its research would not be possible.

Research is carried out by the programme staff in close coordination with the other OIES programmes and in collaboration with leading researchers and institutes in China and the West. Research will be disseminated via a dedicated research paper series, energy comments, sponsors’ visits, and specialised events.

For information about the programme and questions, please email: Michal Meidan

Latest Publications from the China Energy Research Programme

Latest Ongoing Research from the China Energy Research Programme

  • Demystifying China’s gasoline balances

    Between 2008 and 2018, China’s gasoline demand doubled, from 1.5 mb/d to 3 mb/d, with gasoline alone accounting for over a third of the country’s total product demand growth. This was closely related to rising incomes and the phenomenal growth of China’s private car fleet. As a result, Chinese refiners and global markets are expecting the next stage of China’s […]

    By: Gabriel Collins Michal Meidan

  • The geopolitical implications of China’s energy transition

    The Chinese government has pledged to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060. But even as it adds renewable sources to the energy mix, China will likely remain reliant on imported oil and gas for decades to come. This research project is based on oil and gas demand and supply scenarios […]

    By: Michal Meidan

  • The future of diesel in China 

    Diesel has been the most important refined product in China’s oil demand, accounting for a third of consumption in 2018 and for 25% of oil demand growth on average between 2008 and 2018. Historically, diesel was consumed in industry as well as in freight, fuelling trucks and commercial vehicles. But China’s industrial diesel demand has […]

    By: Michal Meidan