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China surpasses U.S. as No. 1 oil importer in September

October 10, 2013|By Shan Li
  • China passed the United States in September as the world's biggest net oil importer, driven by faster economic growth and strong auto sales, according to U.S. government data released this week.
China passed the United States in September as the world's biggest… (Andy Wong / AP )

A growing appetite for energy has caused China to overtake the U.S. as the world's biggest net importer of oil in September.

On average, China used up 6.3 million more barrels a day than it produced last month, according to the Energy Information Admin. That points to imports equaling that amount to make up the shortfall.

China's econonimic growth, rising income levels and growing car sales have stoked a hunger for more and more oil, the agency said. Meanwhile, the U.S., which still consumes far more oil per person than China, is enjoying booming domestic production thanks to new technology.

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"Looking beyond 2014, higher U.S. oil production...coupled with China's projected strong oil demand growth and slow oil production growth," suggests that China will keep its No. 1 spot, the agency said.

Increasingly affluent consumers in China have been snapping up cars at a brisk pace even as the country's economy cools slightly. That demand has driven China in turn to rely more and more on imports, especially from oil-rich Persian Gulf states.

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Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ShanLi

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