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Chinese oil imports from Middle East down
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Crude oil imports from the Middle East are down after the government looked to other nations to secure its energy supply, the commerce ministry said.


Liang Shuhe, deputy director of the ministry's foreign trade department, said the ratio of China's imports from the region to total oil purchased overseas dropped to about 40 percent last year.


"But several years ago, nearly half of our crude oil imports came from the region," Liang told an economic growth and energy forum yesterday.


With Russia, Iran, Venezuela and African nations selling oil to China, "our crude oil supply is secure", given complicated geopolitics in the Middle East, Liang said.


He said oil imports would increase steadily, bringing benefit to both resource-dependent countries and China's economic and social development.


Nigerian Energy Minister Odein Ajumogobia recently told China Daily that Chinese companies are good at oil exploration technology and infrastructure construction. "There are many business opportunities between our two countries in oil exploration and trade," Ajumogobia said.


Imports from Africa currently account for more than 30 percent of China's imported oil. Less than 20 percent of the coal-dependent nation's energy demand is met by oil.


Liang also said China's crude oil imports rose 12.4 percent in 2007 over the previous year to a new record of 163.17 million tons.


But exports fell 38.7 percent year-on-year to 3.89 million tons last year, according to the Customs.


Falling imports and rising exports were largely due to price hikes on world oil markets, said Niu Li, a researcher at the State Information Center.


(China Daily January 17, 2008)

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