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Chinese Oil Import Record

China – The World's Biggest Oil Importer in 2014?

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Where Does China's Oil Come From? Major Import Sources

The Middle East remains the largest source of China’s crude oil imports, although African countries, particularly Angola, began contributing more to its imports in recent years. Saudi Arabia and Angola are China’s two largest sources of oil imports, together accounting for 33 per cent of its total crude oil imports. Sudan and South Sudan had been significant oil exporters to the country until production was shut-in at the beginning of 2012, following political conflicts between the two African nations over their oil resources.

The exports from these two countries dropped from 2,60,000 bbl/d in 2011 to zero by April 2012. As production in the two African countries returned, China resumed a reduced level of imports. The ensuing shut-in of some of Libya’s oil production during the latter half of 2013 as a result of political uprisings also affected oil exports to China.

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Reduced Oil Imports From Iran

China reduced imports from Iran, historically the third-largest exporter to China, by 20 per cent in 2012 to 4,39,000 bbl/d from a high of 5,55,000 bbl/d in 2011, on account of a contract dispute between Sinopec, China’s key oil importer, and Iran’s state oil company. Iran fell to the sixth-largest crude oil exporter position behind Saudi Arabia, Angola, Oman, Russia and Iraq, and constituted 8 per cent of China’s crude oil imports in 2012 and 2013 compared to 11 per cent in 2011.

The contract dispute with Iran was settled by mid-2012, but China reduced its average oil import levels from Iran to maintain diplomatic ties with the US and Europe as a result of global sanctions imposed regarding Iranian crude oil sales over disagreements on Iran’s nuclear program. China replaced the share of oil lost from Iran, Sudan and South Sudan and Libya with imports from various Middle Eastern countries, Angola, Venezuela and Russia.

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