China Not Top Oil Importer - Xinhua

October 17, 2013

Media reports of China surpassing the United States as the world's biggest oil importer as shown by data from a US government agency were somewhat overrated, Xinhua reported on October 17, citing experts.

Recently published data by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed that net imports of the US and China stood at 6.24 million and 6.3 million barrels per day in September, respectively.

The EIA further forecast that China will start overtaking the US by October 2013 on a monthly basis and by 2014 on an annual basis in terms of net oil imports.

"China's net oil imports last month surpassing those in the US was due to seasonal factors to some extent, and do not represent a yearly tendency," said Wang Zhen, deputy director of the institute of Chinese energy strategy in China University of Petroleum.

According to the statistics of China's General Administration of Customs, net imports of crude oil in September stood at 25.6 million tons, while in the first nine months net imports reached 210 million tons.

That is compared to the 304 million tons of net oil imports by US in the first nine months, according to data published in the EIA's monthly energy review.

Given a gap of almost 100 million tons, Wang predicted that China will still not replace the US as the world's top oil importer this year.

In 2012, net imports of crude oil in the US was 425 million tons, almost 150 million tons more than China, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

Putting aside forecasts, analysts attributed September to relatively fast economic growth, a healthy domestic auto market, rapid urbanization and growing personal income.

Niu Li, an expert with the State Information Center, said petroleum consumption will grow relatively fast because of the changing energy consumption mix, industrialization and the consumption upgrade.

Copyright: Xinhua, 2013.