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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Role of law and policy in the offshore petroleum development of China Xin, Kelei


This thesis examines the legal and policy regime applicable to the petroleum activities on the continental shelf of China. The distinguishing characteristics of this regime are revealed by way of a comparative analysis of the salient features of the offshore petroleum laws of China, the United Kingdom and Canada. The modern Chinese offshore petroleum law and policy is essentially the product of the development of the domestic petroleum industry. The formulation of the contemporary regime was greatly influenced by the petroleum policies implemented by previous governments of China. The thesis therefore examines the history of the development of the modern Chinese petroleum experience and the current situation of China's offshore oil and gas industry. This establishes a context within which the presentation of the promulgation of China’s offshore petroleum law and policy in the 1980s can be analyzed. China opened its continental shelf for foreign oil and gas development somewhat later than other countries with offshore petroleum resources. Accordingly, China had the opportunity to study the experiences of other states, and to adopt selectively elements from foreign regimes to the advantage of its economic development. China's offshore petroleum law and policy displays not only unique Chinese characteristics but also incorporates features common to many other offshore petroleum jurisdictions. The thesis identifies these special characteristics and common elements. The two together comprise the Chinese legal regime governing offshore hydrocarbon activities. The goal of the policy of opening the offshore area to foreign oil companies is the promotion of the development of China’s economy while safeguarding its sovereignty and economic interests. The analysis of China's offshore law and policy indicates how the Chinese government intends to reach this goal by means of law-making, and also how the interests of foreign investors are protected and the benefits accruing are shared. Accordingly, special attention is paid to an analysis of the Regulation of the People's Republic of China on the Exploitation of Offshore Petroleum Resources in Cooperation with Foreign Enterprises, and the Model Petroleum Contract drafted by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. China's offshore petroleum law and policy was formulated in the early 1980s. Since then, great changes have taken place in the international petroleum industry. The government of China has accordingly seen the need to modify its offshore petroleum policy from time to time. The thesis offers some comments on the modification of China's policies. The thesis presents a comparative analysis of the oil and gas laws of China, the United Kingdom and Canada, undertaken to show the differences in approach and substance between China and advanced oil producing countries in terms of legislation governing the development of the petroleum industry. Lacunae in the Chinese regime are also identified. The thesis concludes with some suggestions on how China’s offshore hydrocarbon law and policy should be improved in order to better serve the future development of China’s offshore petroleum industry.

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