China's crude oil imports in 2021 declined by 5.4% to 513 Mt

17 Jan 2022

In 2021, China imported 513 Mt of crude oil (-5.4% compared to 2020), 27 Mt of refined products (-4%), 323 Mt of coal and lignite (+6.6%) and 121 Mt of natural gas (+19.9%), according to provisional figures from the country's General Administration of Customs. In addition, the country exported 60 Mt of refined products (-2.4%). This is the first time crude oil imports are declining on year-on-year basis since 2001, as China clamped down on the refining sector to avoid excess domestic fuel production, while refiners reduced inventories. The 2021 decline can be related to rising crude oil price, a "backwardated" market structure - where prompt delivery prices are higher than those in future months - and the government's strategy to cool commodities markets.

China was the world's largest importer of crude oil in 2020, with 543 Mt. In 2020, China imported crude oil mostly from Saudi Arabia (16%), Russia (15%), Iraq (11%), Brazil (8%), Angola (8%), Oman (7%), United Arab Emirates (6%) and Kuwait (5%).

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