China’s net imports of petroleum and other liquid fuels began exceeding those of the U.S. on a monthly basis in September 2013, making the Asian economic power the largest net importer of crude oil and other liquid fuels in the world, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Monday.
Steady economic growth and production growth for petroleum that has fallen behind rapidly increasing demand is driving the rise in China’s net imports, according to EIA.
Chinese production is expected to grow by 5 percent from 2011 to the end of 2014, reaching one third of U.S. production. Petroleum and liquid fuels production in the U.S. is expected to grow by 31 percent in the same period, to 13.3 million barrels a day, primarily from tight oil plays that require hydraulic fracturing technology.
China’s demand for liquid fuels is expected to reach more than 11 million barrels per day this year. U.S. demand is about 18.9 million barrels per day, down from peak consumption of 20.8 barrels a day in 2005. American refined petroleum-product exports increased by 173 percent between 2005 and 2013, lowering total net U.S. imports of petroleum and other liquids, according to EIA.
Increasing demand and political uncertainty surrounding fuel sources has prompted China in recent years to diversify its crude oil imports. China’s largest crude oil supplier is Saudi Arabia, providing 19 percent of China’s oil imports in 2013. Other suppliers include Iraq, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Angola, Venezuela and Russia.