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China Soon to Be World’s Top Net Oil Importer

Launching a big crude oil vessel at a shipyard in Dalian, Liaonin Province, China
Launching a big crude oil vessel at a shipyard in Dalian, Liaonin Province, ChinaPhotograph by Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

China is poised to surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest net oil importer in October, according to new estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The growing oil thirst of the world’s second-largest economy carries significant economic, environmental, and geopolitical implications.

In the U.S., annual consumption of liquid fuels is no longer increasing, according to the EIA. Meanwhile, domestic production of shale oil, tight oil, and shale gas (among other alternative energy sources) has been growing quickly in recent years. The EIA projects the U.S.’s total annual oil production will grow 28 percent from 2011 to 2014, lessening the country’s dependence on foreign oil.