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Crude Oil Imports Climb on Thirsty Demand
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China's crude oil imports rose 14.5 percent year-on-year to 145.18 million tons in 2006, or equivalent 2.9 million barrels per day, due to a rise in domestic demand, customs figures showed yesterday.


In December, the country imported 11.56 million tons of crude oil, up 2.6 percent from 2005 according to the website of the General Administration of Customs.


Crude oil exports remained negligible in 2006 at 6.34 million tons, 21.4 percent less than a year earlier.


A Shanghai-based analyst spoke of the government's choice to increase more in the second half due to falling global prices from July onward.


"For 2007 and years to come, I think the imports (for crude oil) will remain big. A sizable domestic demand has to be met by imports for a long run," said the analyst, who asked not to be named. "The government will also import (crude oil) to fill its reserve tanks when prices are low."


In November, China's monthly crude oil imports surged to a record-high of 13.5 million tons, up nearly a third in annualized terms and edging out September's 13.46 million tons.


Among the crude oil imports, 1.74 million tons came via China's only cross border crude pipeline, which in July started piping oil to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from Kazakhstan, according to Xinjiang authorities.


China's imports for oil products, such as diesel and gasoline, rose 15.7 percent to 36.38 million tons in 2006 while oil product exports plummeted 11.9 percent to 12.35 million tons.


Among 2006 trade figures for other key commodities announced yesterday, steel product exports surged 109.6 percent to 43 million tons while coal exports dropped 11.7 percent to 63.3 million tons.


(Shanghai Daily January 12, 2007)

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