China is set to overtake the United States as the world’s largest net importer of oil.
From October, China’s net oil imports will exceed the US and that change is likely to become permanent from next year.
The latest figures from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) show increased domestic oil production and weakening demand in the US is causing the shift.
Last month, China imported just over 26 million tonnes of crude oil and its exports were under a million tonnes.
The Asian giant is likely to buy the bulk of its energy intake from the US.
China is already the biggest energy user in the world and the second-largest oil consumer after the United States.
The EIA report says the shift has been driven by steady growth in Chinese demand, increased oil production in the United States, and stagnant or weakening demand in the US market.
US annual oil output is expected to rise 28 percent between 2011 and 2014 to nearly 13 million barrels per day, while Chinese production is forecast to grow by six percent over the period, and will stand at just a third of US production in 2014.
Meanwhile, China’s liquid fuels use will increase 13 percent over the period to more than 11 million barrels per day while US demand hovers close to 18.7 million barrels per day.
That is below the US’s peak consumption level of 20.8 million barrels per day in 2005.
China imported 26.11 million tonnes (186.5 million barrels) of crude oil last month and its exports were a mere 0.17 million tonnes, according to official Beijing figures.
Read story at the ABC