BEIJING, April 23 (Reuters) – China's environmental authority has lifted a ban on new approvals for refining projects for the country's top two oil firms, Sinopec Group said, potentially freeing up billions of dollars of investment to meet rising domestic demand.
Last August, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) for China – the world's No.2 consumer of oil – said it would not approve environmental impact assessments submitted by Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) after they failed to meet 2012 pollution targets.
But Sinopec, parent of Asia's largest oil refiner Sinopec Corp , said on Wednesday that the ministry had informed the two firms on April 18 that approvals would now be resumed.
The ban applied to all new refining projects planned by the two firms, apart from upgrades involving fuel pollution specifications or other environmental renovations, and it was estimated to affect more than 3 million barrels per day (bpd) of planned capacity additions.
Sinopec Group said it has met emission reduction targets set by the ministry in 2013. It plans to invest 22.87 billion yuan ($3.67 billion) to improve environmental protection at 803 projects, it added.
CNPC was not immediately available for comment.
($1 = 6.2375 Chinese Yuan)
(Reporting by Judy Hua and David Stanway; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
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