Experts say China should turn more to natural gas to help the country curb its dependency on oil, an area in which China has now overtaken the United States. (File Photo/Xinhua)
China has surpassed the United States to become the world's biggest importer of oil, according to figures released Saturday (Aug 13) by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
In the first five months of this year, China's oil dependency rate had surged to 55.2%, surpassing the US' 53.5% rate. By 2020, China's oil dependency rate could climb to 60%.
Professionals have suggested that China consume more natural gas to help the country curb its oil dependency.
Liao Yongyuan, vice president of China's largest oil and gas producer and supplier, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), said China should be aware of the dependency rate's potential to grow higher, especially when the international oil price is vulnerable to geopolitics and accidents.
Recently, the United States curbed its oil dependency rate to 53.5%. President Barack Obama announced a plan in March to cut the country's oil imports by a third by 2025. Obama proposed greater use of natural gas, including the introduction of incentives for natural gas vehicle fleets.
Liao said China is developing techniques for natural gas extraction, saying that it could help the country reduce oil imports.
MIIT's data also showed that China's natural gas imports in the first five months of 2011 surged by 91.4% to 7.8 million tons compared with the same period last year.
"We estimate the average growth rate of gas consumption will stand at about 20% in the coming years, but domestic output of the fuel will rise by about 10% annually," said Zhu Fang, vice director of the information and marketing department at the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation.
廖永遠 Liao Yongyuan