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Fuelling the Dragon: A Geopolitical Economy of Natural Gas Transition in China

LEUNG, CHUN,KAI (2014) Fuelling the Dragon: A Geopolitical Economy of Natural Gas Transition in China. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



To tackle its coal-induced air pollution and carbon mission problems, the Chinese government has sought to increase the share of natural gas in its fuel mix to 10 percent by 2020. The gasification of the fuel mix requires the gasification of the country’s energy supply chain, which implies transitions in infrastructures, actors and institutions throughout the chain. This dissertation adopts the global production networks (GPN) approach to evaluate how this form of energy transition will unfold functionally, organisationally, institutionally and politically in and across space. Specifically, it assesses the relational landscape of China’s energy governance, and its implications for gas acquisition, distribution and consumption. It finds: (i) the governments, national oil companies and Chinese Communist Party does not behave like a coherent monolith; instead a range of state actors and institutions have defined the structure of China’s gas production network; (ii) China’s state-led expansion of gas infrastructure is surprisingly effective despite the fragmented governance structure; (iii) national oil companies are seeking further vertical integration at the expense of the prospects of independent downstream players; (iv) China’s gas extraction, import, distribution and consumption can only be understood in relation to one another; (v) any ‘strategic coupling’ between international oil companies and China’s regional gas assets and institutions is conditional, and the window of opportunity is wider in the unconventional gas extraction and downstream distribution; and (vi) future development of gas consumption is institutionally uncertain. This research also, via the case of the gasification in China, demonstrates the utility of GPN approach for understanding energy transition.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Dec 2014 15:25

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