Chinese Imports of Saudi Oil Will Rise 19% This Year to 50 Million Tons

China’s imports of oil from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, will increase 19 percent in 2010 from last year, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Chinese imports will increase to 50 million metric tons compared with 41.95 million tons last year, the Riyadh-based news service said today, citing Yang Honglin, China’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Early this year, China overtook the U.S. as Saudi Arabia’s largest buyer of oil, as the world’s biggest energy consumer added refineries and upgraded facilities to process lower- quality crude.

The nation plans to add 31.5 million tons a year of oil refining capacity this year, bringing the total to 515 million tons a year, or 10.3 million barrels per day, according to China National Petroleum Corp., the country’s largest energy company.

Crude imports from Saudi Arabia totaled 28.3 million tons in the first eight months of the year, making it the largest supplier, according to data from the General Administration of Customs in Beijing. Angola was the second biggest at 27.9 million tons.

China signed 27 new industrial projects, valued at $2.1 billion, in Saudi Arabia during the first half of this year, the news service said. China has 81 such projects under construction in the Arab world’s largest economy.

To contact the reporters on this story: Glen Carey in Riyadh at gcarey8@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net.

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