China beats US as world’s largest oil importer

China has taken the top spot as the largest importer of oil in the world, according to US estimates. It beat the US last month, with its imports driven by […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

China has taken the top spot as the largest importer of oil in the world, according to US estimates.

It beat the US last month, with its imports driven by “a steady growth in oil demand” as consumption in China outstripped production by 6.3 million barrels per day, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed in a new report.

It said: “China’s steady growth in oil demand has led it to become the world’s largest net oil importer, exceeding the United States in September 2013. EIA forecasts this trend to continue through 2014.”

China’s liquid fuels use is expected to grow by 13% between 2001 and 2014 to more than 11 million barrels per day. Over the same period, US consumption is predicted to fall to 18.7 million barrels per day from 20.8 million barrels per day in 2005.

Oil production in China however is expected to increase by only 6% over the period, much lower than a 28% rise forecast in the US.

David Hunter, an energy analyst from Schneider Electric said China’s emergence as a major importer of oil is “part of a longer term shift” in global energy trends.

He told ELN: “While global energy demand is set to grow by a third over the next two decades, developed nations’ demand will remain broadly flat as energy efficiency and falling energy intensiveness offset economic growth in the West. So future global demand growth will be generated by emerging economies like China.

“At the same time, the supply phenomenon of US shale or ‘tight’ oil is a major factor. By 2020 the US will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest liquid hydrocarbons producer and as a result American oil imports are falling as China’s are rising.”