China looks away from OPEC for oil imports

A Sinopec gas station besides oil refinery facilities of Sinopec in Pudong of Shanghai, China. (Photo by Kevin Lee/Bloomberg News)

China, the world’s largest oil importer, is getting more and more of its crude from outside its traditional suppliers in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

According to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, imports into China from non-OPEC countries has risen from just 34 percent to 43 percent over the last five years. The largest exporters to China are Russia, Oman, Brazil, and the United Kingdom.

The agency attributed the gains in part to the Chinese government’s decision in 2015 to allow non-government refineries to import crude.

At the same time overall oil demand in China continues to rise, growing by .4 million barrels a day last year. But with falling domestic production China is becoming increasingly reliant on oil from abroad. In December China imported 8.6 million barrels a day.

That compared to Chinese domestic production of just 4.9 million barrels a day in 2016, a 6 percent drop from the previous year.