China is on course to import $500 billion (£319bn) of crude oil by 2020, far outspending the US, as more of its citizens plump for their own cars.
By 2020 the Asian superpower will rely on imports to meet 70% of its demand according to new analysis which predicts between 2005 and 2020 Chinese imports will more than triple.
In contrast US imports are likely to drop as it meets more of its demand with domestic production. Its bill for importing crude oil peaked at $335 billion (£214bn) and by 2020 it will fall to only $160 billion (£102bn).
China is set to overtake the US on oil imports in 2017, fuelled largely by the almost exponential rise in personal vehicles in cities such as Shanghai (pictured) as well as the demands of commercial trucking as its economy continues to expand.
Dr Harold York, Principal Oils Markets Analyst for Wood Mackenzie which compiled the analysis said: “Although lesser per capita by international benchmarks, by 2020 China will be second only to the US for the total fleet of personal auto vehicles in use. From 2005-2020, China will see the number of vehicles rise from 20 million to 160 million.”
China is also set to become increasingly reliant on countries in the Middle Eastern oil group OPEC to meet demand, with OPEC crude accounting for an estimated 66% of Chinese imports by 2020. At the same time the US is relying less on OPEC with Canada becoming their main source of imports.