All the oil in China

March 31, 2015

With oil as with so much else in today’s geopolitical scene, China is the elephant in the room.

Between 2011-2013 China used 50 percent more cement than the U.S. did in the entire 20th century, a statistic sufficient to stagger the likes of Bill Gates. The country’s rapid expansion makes its thirst for oil manifest, but how import-dependent is China?

As this Reuters graphic shows, according to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2013 China used 10.3 million of barrels of oil per day (bpd), a distant second to the nearly 19 million bpd that the U.S. burns through. But perhaps more surprisingly, China was the fourth biggest oil producer that year, its 4.46 million bpd leading the second tier of producers behind the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Russia.

China’s oil imports hit a high of 7.2 million pbd in December, and the country is wisely taking advantage of low prices to fill its strategic reserves.┬áIt is hard to imagine China’s consumption (or production) contracting any time soon, a prospect that should excite oil producers and dismay environmental activists in equal measures.


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