China Passes the U.S. as #1 Oil Importer
Well, it's finally happened. Last September, according to the calculations of the Energy Information Administration, China passed the United States as the world's largest importer of oil products.
The crossing of paths in the result of two trends - China's increasing consumption and the United States' soaring production. As EIA reports: " U.S. total annual petroleum and other liquids production is expected to rise 31% between 2011 and 2014 to 13.3 million barrels per day, primarily from tight oil plays. In the meantime, Chinese production will increase at a much lower rate (5% over this period) and is forecast to be only a third of U.S. production in 2014. On the demand side, China's liquid fuels use is expected to reach more than 11 million barrels per day in 2014, while U.S. demand hovers close to 18.9 million barrels per day, well below the peak U.S. consumption level of 20.8 million barrels per day in 2005. U.S. refined petroleum product exports increased by more than 173% between 2005 and 2013, lowering total net U.S. imports of petroleum and other liquids." And all this while exports of U.S. crude oil are still illegal.
Interestingly, while European has been growing more dependent on Russia for natural gas, China has been turning to her for oil as well. "Because production levels from Iran, Libya, and Sudan and South Sudan dropped since 2011, China replaced the lost shares of crude oil and other liquids imports from these countries with imports from Oman, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Angola, Venezuela, and Russia." No wonder Vladimir Putin is feeling confident these days.