China's second-largest oil company, Sinopec Group, Monday said it had amended plans for a $9 billion refinery in Guangdong province - stepping back from the idea of building on an environmentally-sensitive site.
The refinery, a joint venture with Kuwait, will now be built in Zhanjiang instead of in Guangdong, said a company statement.
It was initially proposed for Nansha, in Guangzhou, which is in the heart of the densely populated Pearl River Delta.
"From this week, both parties will start feasibility studies for the new site and an evaluation report on its environmental impact," Sinopec announced in a statement.
The project will need approval from the National Development and Reform Commission and, assuming it gets that backing, the refinery will come online at the end of 2013, the statement said.
The Sinopec-Kuwait refinery is believed to be the largest joint project in China. The Nansha site was criticized because of damage it might cause to the delta.
"The decision is a good example of how environmental concerns can shape policy," said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. In recent years, several large projects have been shelved or delayed following vocal opposition about issues, including pollution and environmental impact.
In July, Ma's organization launched China's first Pollution Information Transparency Index (PITI) and published its first annual assessment of pollution information from 113 Chinese cities for 2008.
Items evaluated in the PITI listing include environmental rule violations, subsequent improvements and rectification, enterprises' environmental impact and five other benchmarks. Zhanjiang was at the bottom of the list, Ma added.