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Oil Imports May Cost an Extra US$10 Billion

China may pay US$10 billion more on oil imports this year due to higher global oil prices, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on its Website on Sunday.

China is expected to import 140 million tons of crude oil this year to fuel the world's fastest-growing major economy. It could translate into a higher fuel bill of at least US$10 billion, the ministry said in a statement.

"It is clear that global oil prices will remain at high levels and cast a shadow on China's economy," the statement said. "High prices push China to spend more foreign exchange."

Oil prices have risen 50 percent this year. World oil prices hit a record high of US$70.80 a barrel in New York on August 30. Recent prices have hovered between US$60 and US$65 per barrel.

Oil prices have risen this year as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers failed to increase output to meet demand. Consumption in China also helped boost the price to record highs.

China imported 83.12 million tons of oil in the first eight months, a year-on-year rise of 3.9 percent while the oil bill jumped 43.7 percent to US$29.39 billion, said the report.

China's oil imports have risen every year since 1993 when the country became a net oil importer.

At present, 40 percent of China's oil is imported.

(Shanghai Daily October 11, 2005)

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