KUWAIT CITY (Commodity Online) : Kuwait's General Administration of Customs on Tuesday said country's crude oil exports to China grew 17.8 percent in April to a record high of 1.081 million tons.

In a report issued here it said the new figure is equal to 264,000 barrels per day.

Kuwait provided 5.1 percent of China's total crude oil imports, compared with 5.7 percent in the same month of last year and 4.5 percent in March.

For the first four months of 2010, Kuwait, OPEC's fourth largest exporter, shipped 3.17 million tons (194,000 bpd).

China's overall imports of crude jumped 30.9 percent year-on-year to a record of 21.17 million tons (5.17 million bpd) in April.

Angola remained China's top supplier with its shipments skyrocketing 180.8 percent from a year earlier to 4.29 million tons (1.05 million bpd), followed by Saudi Arabia with 3.09 million tons (755,000 bpd), down 17.1 percent.

Iran became third, with imports from the country falling 21.2 percent to 1.74 million tons (424,000 bpd).

China gave preliminary approval to state-run Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and its partner Sinopec for a $9 billion oil refinery project in south China's Guangdong Province, to which Kuwait is expected to supply all the crude.

The planned project includes a 300,000 bpd refinery, ethylene cracker with the capacity of 1 million ton per year and a retail network in and around the province. China, the world's second-biggest oil consumer after the US, first became a net oil importer in 1993.

According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences last year, 64.5 percent of China's oil consumption is likely to be met by imports in 2020, due to the gap in domestic consumption and production.

The nation's oil dependency reached alarming levels last year with imports accounting for 52 percent of total consumption.