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China imports record 163 mln tons of crude oil last year
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China's crude oil imports rose 12.4 percent in 2007 over the previous year to a new record of 163.17 million tonnes, according to customs figure.

Crude oil imports for 2006 was 138.8 million tonnes, representing an increase of 16.9 percent from the previous year. The exports, however, fell 38.7 percent year-on-year to 3.89 million tonnes last year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Crude oil exports were valued at 79.77 billion U.S. dollars, 20.1 percent more than a year earlier amid international oil price hikes. Global prices surged about 57 percent throughout last year.

China also imported 33.8 million tonnes of oil products in 2007, a decline of 7.1 percent from the previous year, although large oil producers increased oil product imports late last year following a fuel shortage reported in October.

The export of oil products still enjoyed a marked increase. It rose 25.6 percent to 15.51 million tonnes last year.

Chinese Ministry of Commerce forecast the country's crude oil output for 2007 at 187 million tons, up 1.7 percent year-on-year.

"China would need to increase oil imports year by year, as its own crude oil output growth failed to outpace consumption demand in recent years," said Niu Li, an analyst with the State Information Center, a government think tank.

He said the country's crude oil output had been growing at an annual rate of about two percent over past few years, however, oil consumption increased by about six percent annually.

International crude oil prices touched a fresh high of 100 U.S. dollars a barrel for the first time ever last week.

(Xinhua News Agency January 12, 2008)

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