(Yicai Global) March 29 -- China is expected to overtake the United States to become the world's largest importer of crude oil as early as this year, said Keisuke Sadamori, director of the Energy Markets and Security Directorate at the International Energy Agency.
“China's economy is making structural adjustments, but we still see the rapid growth in demand for gasoline, because the number of Chinese consumers buying cars is increasing, and oil is also a necessary raw material for industrial activities,” said Sadamori in an interview ahead of the launch of the Singapore International Energy Week on March 28.
Even if the Middle East were to send all its crude oil exports to Asia, the continent would still be short of 1 million barrels per day by 2022, Sadamori said. All Asian countries will become net importers of crude oil by 2022, he said.
While the Middle East will remain the continent’s largest source of crude oil, Asia will look to get more of its supply from the United States, Central Asia and Africa, he said. To meet the Asia’s growing needs, channels are bound to be diversified.
China imported an average of 7.64 million barrels a day last year, China Customs data shows. The US’s daily imports were 7.88 million barrels, US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows. Production will accelerate in the States, and by the end of this year the country’s daily shale output will be 500,000 barrels higher than last year’s, Sadamori said.