Oil is China’s second-largest energy source, so it is essential to understand the country’s greenhouse gas emissions from crude-oil production. Chinese crude supply is sourced from numerous major global petroleum producers. Here, we use a per-barrel well-to-refinery life-cycle analysis model with data derived from hundreds of public and commercial sources to model the Chinese crude mix and the upstream carbon intensities and energetic productivity of China’s crude supply. We generate a carbon-denominated supply curve representing Chinese crude-oil supply from 146 oilfields in 20 countries. The selected fields are estimated to emit between ~1.5 and 46.9 g CO2eq MJ−1 of oil, with volume-weighted average emissions of 8.4 g CO2eq MJ−1. These estimates are higher than some existing databases, illustrating the importance of bottom-up models to support life-cycle analysis databases. This study provides quantitative insight into China’s energy policy and the economic and environmental implications of China’s oil consumption.

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The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) provided financial support to M.S.M.

Author information


  1. Department of Energy Resources Engineering, School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

    • Mohammad S. Masnadi
    •  & Adam R. Brandt
  2. Strategic Transport Analysis Team, Aramco Research Center - Detroit, Aramco Services Company, Novi, MI, USA

    • Hassan M. El-Houjeiri
    •  & Steven Przesmitzki
  3. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

    • Dominik Schunack
    •  & Yunpo Li
  4. Department of Physics, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA, USA

    • Samori O. Roberts
  5. Systems Assessment Group, Energy Systems Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, IL, USA

    • Michael Wang


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M.S.M., D.S., Y.L., A.R.B and H.M.E.-H. were involved in data gathering, processing and analysis of different fields. The final results were integrated by M.S.M. M.S.M. wrote the manuscript, and all authors contributed to revising the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mohammad S. Masnadi.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Figures 1–2, Supplementary Table 1 and Supplementary references.

  2. Supplementary Data 1

    The input data of each oilfield that have been collected from public domain

  3. Supplementary Data 2

    Field-level: the carbon intensities (CI), NER and EER results of all studied oilfields; country-level: the volume-weighted average results aggregated based on countries; production coverage: captured total oil production of each country; OPGEE versus Ecoinvent: here the OPGEE CI results are compared with the corresponding Ecoinvent database numbers; break-down of emissions: seven major sources of emissions from upstream processes

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