As the second greatest crude oil consuming country in the world, China has seen a the gap between domestic ability to supply and demand for crude oil widen in the first five months of this year, according to figures released by China Customs.
Apparent consumption of crude oil totaled 118.68 mln tons in the period, of which only 60.2% was supplied by domestic oilfields, down from 68.4% in the whole of last year, said Shiyou Jingji Wang, website of the domestic oil journal International Petroleum Economy.
China imported 49.8 mln tons of crude oil in the period from January to May, accounting for 42% of domestic apparent consumption in the period. Apparent consumption refers to the result after imports are added and exports subtracted from domestic output. Only 35% of the domestic apparent consumption of crude oil came from imports last year.
Demand for oil products also increased significantly in the five months.
Apparent consumption of diesel in the period jumped 25.6% compared to the same period last year to total 41.4 mln tons. According to customs' figures, China's diesel supply deficit began this year. The ratio of diesel output to apparent consumption fell below 100% in the five months to 98.44%, while that of last year stood at above 101%.
The government's encouraging peasants to grow more grains is believed to have driven up demand. China's grains stock fell to a five-year low earlier this year, due to natural disasters and reduction in farmland, raising concerns that famine could result.
Apparent consumption of kerosene and fuel oil also rose by a large margin from January to May when considerably more imports were made.
China consumed 4.25 mln tons of kerosene as of May, up 25.14% year-on-year. Domestic output could no longer meet demand in the period, as its proportion in apparent consumption decreased from 104% last year to 90% as of May.
Apparent consumption of fuel oil was recorded at 21.13 mln tons in the period, up 36.48% year-on-year. 13.26 mln tons were imported in the months, up 60% year-on-year. Fear of rolling blackouts has forced some industrial plants to resort to using their backup generators for power supply. These generators burn fuel oil, instead of coal.