BIZCHINA> Oil Prices
Imports of oil will rise by 10m tons
Updated: 2007-07-03 11:35
China will use up to 350 million tons of oil this year, a rise of 10 million tons from last year, an expert with the country's top economic planner said.

High oil prices have impacted the nation's energy budget, said Jiang Xinmin, an expert with the Energy Institute under theNational Development and Reform Commission, adding that the country might replace oil with gas in some areas.

Jiang said domestic oil production had risen at around 1.5 percent a year, whereas oil consumption had jumped by about eight percent annually since 2002, compelling China to import more.

As recently as 10 years ago, he said, the country had been a net oil exporter but in 2006, nearly 50 percent of China's oil consumption was imported.

International oil prices have risen from US$25 per barrel in 2003 to US$70 now. "The unrest in the Middle East adds to oil price uncertainties in the global market," Jiang added.

Despite the high price of crude, production in China's large oil refineries has scarcely climbed because petrochemical companies are struggling to deal with rising costs of output, Jiang said.

In 2006, China imported 139 million tons of crude oil, a jump of 17 percent over 2005. Imports accounted for 47 percent of the country's consumption. Industry observers have warned China will likely need to import more than 50 percent of its petroleum needs in a year or two.

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