China imported 38.34 million tons of crude oil from Africa in 2005, accounting for 30 percent of its oil imports, an official with the National Reform and Development Commission (NRDC) said on Wednesday.
By the end of 2005, China had invested in 27 major oil and natural gas projects in 14 African countries, including Sudan, Algeria, Angola and Nigeria, said Zhang Yuqing, deputy head of the NRDC's energy department.
Speaking at a press conference on the forthcoming Sino-African cooperation forum, Zhang said China's investment in the energy sector had contributed to the economic development of African countries, while its technical cooperation and training programs had helped Africa train its own oil technicians.
Chinese firms have also been actively involved in building roads, bridges, hospitals and other public facilities, he said.
China's dynamic economic growth over the last two decades has led to a surge in its oil demands.
Official figures show that the country imported 126.82 million tons of crude oil in 2005. The imports in the first eight months of 2006 reached 95.80 million tons, up 15.3 percent on the previous year.
In 2005, Saudi Arabia was China's largest source of crude oil, with imports totaling 22.18 million tons. It was followed by Angola's 17.46 million tons.
Four African countries, namely, Angola, Sudan, Congo and Equatorial Guinea, were among the top 10 oil exporters to China in 2005.
Zhang said Chinese oil firms possess unique technologies in the exploration and development of oil fields with complicated geological conditions as well as in the development of old oil fields with depleted resources.
He said the government will encourage Chinese firms to expand their cooperation with African countries in the energy sector.
The Sino-African cooperation forum will hold its summit and ministerial conference in Beijing between Nov. 3 and 5. Chinese and African leaders are expected to take part in the summit with a theme of "Friendship, peace, cooperation and development."
(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2006)