China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, China's largest oil refiner, is
expected to import 10 million metric tons of crude oil from the United
States this year, said the company, also known as Sinopec.
Unipec Singapore Pte Ltd, a trading unit of Sinopec, said it imported
5.57 million tons of crude oil from the US in 2017, 10 percent of the
total US crude oil export last year, which also makes the company the
biggest US crude oil trader in the Asia-Pacific region and a major
player in US crude oil trade.
China is increasingly reliant on crude oil imports as domestic supply
is unable to keep pace with demand, mostly driven by rising demand for
oil products such as gasoline and jet fuel.
Analysts said that despite the rate of growth, China's oil demand
will likely slow over the next few years as China's economic growth
slows, and demand for imported oil will continue to rise.
"Demand for imported oil is likely to continue to rise unless we see
very significant growth in technologies such as electric motors and
electric storage which may be able to replace the need for oil,
especially in the transport sector," said Sebastian Lewis, head of
content for S&P Global Platts in China.
With advantages in infrastructure layout including warehouse
logistics, Sinopec became the first trader to import US crude in the
Asia-Pacific region after shipping the first batch of US crude to China
in March 2016.
According to Sinopec, more than a dozen refineries under Sinopec are
processing US crude oil, all of which have played a positive role in
diversifying China's crude imports.
Customs data showed that crude oil imports stood at 420 million tons
in 2017, surpassing the US to become the world's largest importer of
Despite the fact that US crude supplies still remain a small
proportion of Chinese imports, analysts said US crude imports will take
up some of the country's growing demand, which will benefit both