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Crude Imports to Reach 120m Ton in 2004

China's crude oil imports is expected to rise to 120 million metric tons in 2004 from an estimated 88 million tons last year due to fast economic growth, industry officials were quoted by Dow Jones News as saying Thursday.

China will announce last year's crude import volumes before the Lunar New Year Jan. 22, but industry officials said imports for 2003 should at least reach 88 million tons, up from 69.4 million tons in 2002.

During the first half of 2003, 43.8 million tons of crude were imported, and the figure reached 81.87 million tons five months later, rising nearly 30% over the same period of 2002.

Expecting an 8%-8.5% GDP growth this year and falls of crude supply from major onshore and offshore oil fields, industry officials said China's demand for crude oil will reach 290 million tons in 2004, up 6.5% from 2003.

"While domestic supply lags behind demand, imports are the only solution," said one official with China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec Corp. Another official said imports from the Middle East, Kazakhstan, Russia and Western Africa will continue to rise this year.

82% of China's crude imports in 2003 came from these countries and regions.

(China Daily January 9, 2004)

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