Analytical Instrumentation

  • Why is China Importing So Much Oil?

Why is China Importing So Much Oil?

Jan 23 2020 Read 347 Times

China is one of the biggest oil consumers in the world, with the National Bureau of Statistics revealing the People's Republic guzzled a huge 316.97 million mt of crude in the first half of 2019. In November 2019, China imported a record 11.18 million barrels a day, which soared above the previous record of 10.77 million barrels a day set by the US in June 2005.

In 2020 analysts predict China will continue to break records for crude oil imports, with refinery activity in Zhanjiang and Zhejiang set to boom. Trade tensions with the United States are also on track to ease, which will bolster the national economy and support oil consumption growth. China is also gearing up for a significant tax rebate on marine fuel which will further contribute to national oil imports.

China heavily dependent on Middle East imports

While growing imports suggest a healthy economy, Chinese leaders are also aware of the dangers of import dependency. State-owned energy moguls such as PetroChina Co. are major producers of oil and gas, however the country is still heavily dependent on imported resources, mostly from the Middle East. In 2020, research firm Wood Mackenzie predicts China will import more than 9 million barrels of crude per day, with roughly 38% sourced from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Other major contributors will be Russia and Africa.

Fuelling a nation of 1.44 billion

With United Nations projections estimating China's 2020 population at 1.44 billion, the enormous oil consumption figures come as no surprise. The country relies on oil to power its fleet of more than 250 million cars, as well as sustain its colossal manufacturing industries, which range from apparel and electronics to automobiles and aircraft.

A greener future?

While oil imports are on the rise there's also the question of shifting away from non-renewable resources, with the Chinese government supporting the use of electric vehicles, renewable energy and high-speed rail transport. As these sectors continue to grow, China's oil imports should technically decrease. Though with the latest Energy Outlook report from the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) forecasting demand could peak at 16.4mn b/d in 2030, a decline isn't likely for at least another decade.

As renewable resources gain momentum and the oil and gas industry works towards a greener future, petroleum refineries are working hard to finetune production methods and maximise efficiency. For a closer look at how refinery labs are using metal analysis techniques to avoid the deactivation of catalysts due to naturally occurring elements in crude oil, don't miss 'Optimise Catalyst Efficiency by Monitoring Chlorine with Petra Max.'

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