Skip to main content

The morning rush hour clogs a highway in Shanghai in this file photo. China is poised to overtake the United States as the world’s leading oil importer this year.

CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS

China is poised to overtake the United States as the world's leading oil importer in October, part of a long-term trend that is forcing the Asian giant to find new supply sources including Canada to fuel its economy.

Chinese crude imports will exceed those of the United States for the first time on a monthly basis in October, and for the entire year in 2014, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Friday.

"The imminent emergence of China as the world's largest net oil importer has been driven by steady growth in Chinese demand, increased oil production in the United States and a flat level of demand for oil in the U.S. market," the agency said.

Story continues below advertisement

Even with a slowing economy, China's fuel consumption is targeted to increase to nearly 13 million barrels a day next year, a 13-per-cent increase from 2011 levels. In contrast, American fuel use will flat-line at around 18.7 million b/d next year, well below peak consumption of 20.8 million in 2005. But U.S. production is surging, crowding out offshore imports. (Canada's crude exports to the U.S. have climbed along with American domestic production.)

By the end of 2014, China will be importing nearly seven million barrels a day, while U.S. imports will drop to just over five million.

Even as the U.S. breaks its addiction to imported crude, China's dependency will increase, driving both economic and strategic policies aimed at ensuring the country has a secure supply.

Those include encouraging state-owned enterprises to invest in oil production and export infrastructure in places such as Canada, Venezuela and west Africa, and building up its navy to guard the critical sea lanes through which much of its crude must pass.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies