China's crude oil imports bill surged 40.7 percent last year due to the hike in prices globally.
China paid US$47.72 billion last year for 126.8 million tons of crude, a rise of 3.3 percent, Beijing-based General Administration of Customs said on its Website.
Global oil prices hit a record high of US$70.8 a barrel in New York on August 30.
Zhou Chengdang, president of the www.oillink.cn, a Website which tracks the market, said China's oil imports may stay flat this year as the country expands its own output and shifts to other energy sources such as natural gas.
"The high prices resulted in a higher import bill but they also speeded up the exploration of China's hard-to-tap fields," Zhou said.
China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, better known as Sinopec, drilled 1.7 percent more crude to 278.82 million barrels last year.
PetroChina Co, the country's biggest oil firm, produced 1.5 percent more oil to 842 million barrels in the same period, the highest level since PetroChina went public in 2000. The increase marks the firm's largest annual oil output growth in recent years.
Exports of oil products including gasoline and diesel rose 22.2 percent last year to 14 million tons. The value jumped 61.9 percent to US$6.4 billion, the Customs said.
(Shanghai Daily January 20, 2006)