China is set to overtake the US as the world’s biggest importer of crude oil by 2017, consultancy Wood Mackenzie has said.
It is estimated that China will spend $500bn (around £320bn) on 9.2m barrels of imported crude oil per day by 2020, up from 2.5m barrels per day (bpd) in 2005.
By comparison, US imports will fall to around $160bn or 9.2m bpd by 2020 (compared to 6.8m bpd in 2005) as domestic shale gas production replaces imports from the Middle East and Africa.
Over 2012, China imported 5.42m bpd of crude oil, compared to 8.49m bpd in the US. The projected Chinese spend on crude oil imports will far exceed even the US annual peak of $160bn.
And as the US reduces its reliance on OPEC nations, China's will increase, with OPEC’s share of Chinese oil imports expected to rise to 66 per cent in 2020 from 52 per cent in 2005.
The US Energy Information Administration have forecast that China will overtake the United States as the largest crude oil importer as early as October this year on a monthly basis, and by next year on an annual basis.
China and India alone are expected to account for half of the 56 per cent growth in global energy consumption between 2010 and 204.