First Advisor

Gil Latz

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Geography






Energy industries -- Government policy -- China, Energy policy -- China, Energy security -- China, Synthetic Petroleum -- Government policy -- China



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 139 p.) : ill., maps


Since the start of the 21st century, energy security concerns and rising international energy costs have led China to pursue the development of a coal to oil industry, whereby converting a portion of the nation's abundant coal reserves into gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel, China might be able to increase its domestic oil production and generate profits. But a large-scale coal to oil industry exerts added pressure on China's domestic coal reserves and water resources, and generates significant greenhouse gas emissions. The tension between the potential benefits of coal to oil development and its associated negative externalities present a challenge for China's energy policymakers, who must balance competing demands for energy security, resource management, and equitable development. The challenge of effectively managing the development of this industry is complicated by the characteristic problems plaguing energy sector governance in China, including the absence of a powerful energy policymaking institution, the decentralized nature of the country's economic development, and the influence of large energy companies. This study examines the evolution of China's coal to oil industry and the policies shaping its development in order to better understand energy sector governance in China and the complex challenges confronting policymakers as they strive to balance an array of competing demands. It finds that weak energy institutions and powerful domestic actors indeed hinder China's ability to efficiently formulate energy policies for the coal to oil industry, while considerations about the industry's environmental and resource impacts compel a cautious approach to development. China's incremental approach to formulating a long-term plan for the development of the coal to oil industry may, in the end, yield more effective policies.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Geography

Persistent Identifier