China Oil Imports Skyrocket

From the September 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

The rate at which the world’s most populous country is guzzling oil is rising at a dizzying pace. This fact has serious global ramifications. China imported 12.4 million tons of crude oil in May—an incredible 20.5 percent jump from May 2005.

China’s ballooning need for imported oil is the single greatest cause of increasing strain on global oil supplies. A mere decade ago, China was a net exporter of oil; but it has since become the world’s second-largest oil importer (behind the United States)—accounting for fully 40 percent of global growth in oil demand over the four years between 2001 and 2004. These latest statistics suggest this demand will become significantly steeper in the years ahead.

Unfortunately, though demand is ballooning, supplies aren’t: In fact, many experts say global oil production appears to be approaching its peak. Existing oil fields are already working at or close to full capacity—and, in many cases, have already started to decline in output—and new discoveries aren’t expected to make up the difference.

This means that global competition for what oil does exist is about to get vicious. To understand where these events will lead, see our special March 2006 Trumpet issue on “The Coming Global Resource War.”