China's Huge Thirst for Oil Set to Change World Energy Flows

China surpasses Japan as world's number two oil user after the USA.

Published: 03-Dec-2003

With its factories working overtime, and its consumers on course to buy almost 2 million cars this year, China is developing a world-class thirst for oil. And its hunt for steady supplies is reshaping the global energy scene.

China - which this year surpassed Japan as the No 2 petroleum user after the US - is increasing its oil purchases even faster than it is pumping up its brawny economy. Imports for the first 10 months of 2003 were up 30 per cent from year-earlier levels.

The International Energy Agency expects imports to double to some 4 million barrels a day by 2010. By 2030, China is expected to be importing about 10 million barrels a day, roughly what the US imports now. Domestic oil output, meanwhile, is flat.

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