China: Crude oil imports to increase this year.
Crude oil imports are likely to go up by 9.1 percent this year to 212 million tons, according to a report from oil and gas producer China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC). Net oil imports, including crude and refined oil products, may rise 8.3 percent to 234 million tons, said the report released by the Research Institute of Economics and Technology of CNPC.
Analysts said it was inevitable that crude imports would increase, as existing output cannot keep pace with surging domestic demand.
Oil imports alone may go up by 5 percent this year, with the proportion of imported oil increasing to 54 percent, said Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University.
"Domestic output is already at its peak," he said.
"Although oil companies have accelerated their overseas expansion, the resources they have gained are still limited."China's oil dependency reached alarming levels last year with imports accounting for 52 percent of total consumption, Customs figures showed. Imports of more than 50 percent are globally considered to indicate an energy security alert.
China first became a net oil importer in 1993. The country's oil imports surpassed 100 million tons in 2004, and the figure touched nearly 200 million tons in 2007.
According to a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) 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.
Statistics from CASS show that China's oil production is expected to be between 177 and 198 million tons in 2010, and reach 182 to 200 million tons by 2015. Oil output is expected to see a gradual decline after 2020, according to CASS.
CNPC had earlier said oil imports would be affected by many factors, such as rising global competition and volatile energy prices.
Analysts are of the view that the nation should diversify its oil import sources for sustainable supplies. At present the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific are three main regions from which China imports oil.