Natural Gas Boom to Force China into Top Oil Importer by 2017

A new report indicates rising Chinese demand and America's shale boom have placed the U.S. on pace to give up its unwelcome title of the world's number one oil importer by 2017.

"China and the US are heading in opposite directions for crude oil import trends," says William Durbin, energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie's Beijing-based President of Global Markets. "Although the US was the largest import market before, China will surpass US demand for oil imports and peak spend." 

"Notably also is a change in traditional suppliers--China will look towards OPEC supply more as US relies on it less," Durbin explains.

According to the Wood Mackenzie report, by 2020 China will pay nearly $500 billion for oil imports, a figure almost double what it currently pays.

It is all part of a trend where U.S. energy independence and Chinese energy dependence are both on an upward trajectory.

U.S. oil import volumes have dropped to four million barrels per day, even as China's have jumped from a million barrels per day in 2004 to over three million in 2012.


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