EIA: China exceeds US as the largest net petroleum importer

In September 2013, China’s net imports of petroleum and other liquids exceeded those of the US on a monthly basis, making it the world’s largest net importer of crude oil and other liquids, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Rapidly increasing Chinese petroleum demand driven by steady economic development outpaces domestic production growth, pushing up the country’s net imports of petroleum and other liquids.

Chinese petroleum and other liquids production is expected to rise 5% between 2011 and 2014 compared with a growth rate of 31% in the US over this period. Chinese production is estimated to be only a third of US production in 2014.

On the demand side, China’s liquid fuels consumption is expected to reach more than 11 million b/d in 2014. In the meantime, US consumption in 2014 is estimated at 18.9 million b/d, down 9% from the peak consumption in 2005. US refined petroleum product exports increased by more than 173% between 2005 and 2013.

“China has been diversifying the sources of its crude oil imports in recent years as a result of robust oil demand growth and recent geopolitical uncertainties,” EIA said.

Saudi Arabia continues to be the largest supplier of crude oil to China, providing 19% of China’s 5.6 million b/d in 2013. Because production levels from Iran, Libya, and Sudan and South Sudan dropped since 2011, China replaced the lost shares of crude oil and other liquids imports from these countries with imports from Oman, Iraq, the UAE, Angola, Venezuela, and Russia, according to EIA.

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