Why bother?

By Malini Hariharan

After reading news reports about fresh protests against Kuokuang Petrochemical’s proposed refinery and cracker complex in Taiwan the blog is wondering whether the company should be spending time and money in pursuing this ill-fated project.

Kuokuang, a joint venture between state-owned CPC Corp and several Taiwanese private companies, has been unable to secure the mandate of the local people since it was first mooted in the 1990s and has struggled to receive environmental clearance.

This time clashes broke out between hundreds of supporters and opponents at Changhua County, hours before a scheduled hearing on the project by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The police was able to restore order but the hearing ended without any conclusion.

Pic source: The China Post

The company is now looking at scaling down the project which includes a 300,000 bbl/day refinery, a 2.4m tonnes/year cracker and more than 20 downstream units.

While the government is actively supporting the project, which is expected to generate revenue of NT460bn and generate 18,000 jobs, environmentalists are ramping up their protests as they firmly believe that the project would cause irreversible damage to marine life in Changhua County.

Getting local approval appears to be next to impossible and perhaps it is time for Kuokuang’s partners to cut short their losses and focus on investments elsewhere in Asia.

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