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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Sustainable Development of Giant Oil Fields in China:
The Assessment Framework and Case Studies

Da Chen

Sustainable Development of Giant Oil Fields in China:
The Assessment Framework and Case Studies

The Chinese oil industry faces some of the most difficult sustainability challenges of any industrial sector. Awareness of the importance of sustainable development has become more and more central to the thinking of the oil industry and regulators in the last decades in China. The industry must respond to the challenges by implementing the sustainability strategies for giant oil field development. The Chinese oil industry must also be able to measure and assess the sustainability performance and to demonstrate continuous improvements of its giant oil fields over a long term, preferable in the whole life cycle. The current sustainability assessment practice (i.e. EIA) in China has limitations. It is unable to serve as the proper assessment framework to guide the direction of sustainable development of giant oil fields. This dissertation aims to develop a framework for sustainability assessment of giant oil fields in China. The framework contains the assessment target box, assessment hierarchy and the matrix of sustainability themes and assessment methods. In order to illustrate the concept of the assessment framework and test the applicability of the framework to different oil fields, two case studies are carried out to demonstrate the usage of the framework. Finally, the successful sustainable development strategies for Chinese giant oil fields are concluded from the case studies: 1) business diversification, 2) international cooperation 3) eco-city as final development target. The future research to apply the assessment framework and the strategies to development of overseas oil fields acquired by Chinese oil companies is also briefly discussed at the end of the dissertation.



Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.