Vietnam has expanded the plan to develop the petroleum industry in the country by 2020, but some say that the increasing number of refineries comes with significant risks.

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Originally, the development plan through 2020 included three refinery projects: Dung Quat Refinery in Quang Ngai, Nghi Son in Thanh Hoa and Long Son in Ba Ria – Vung Tau. Since then, however, two more, Vong Ro Refinery in Phu Yen) and Nam Van Phong Refinery in Khanh Hoa, have been added, and another is awaiting the approval of the government.

Although so many oil refineries may be good for the petroleum industry, many people are concerned about the environmental effects according to Nguyen Dong Hai, former leader of Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PVN).

Hai said Japan was the first country in East Asia to build refineries, but they have stopped, preferring to import refined oil. “A number of other countries are also aware of the negative effects of refineries, especially to the environment. They have policies to reduce or limit domestic oil refining projects and seek ways to move them abroad,” he said.

According to Hai, there is also an economic risk. The country likely to get the most benefit from the development of Vietnam’s petroleum industry would be China, which is already the top importer of coal from Vietnam. In Hai’s opinion, in the end it may be Vietnam which incurs the negative effects of refining coal while giving China most of the benefit.

“Cooperation with other countries is essential for a prosperous economy. However, we need to choose wisely which role we play with our partners, and have clear management strategies so that we benefit from cooperation. This is necessary to have sustainable development,” Hai noted.


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