Better energy utilization a pressing need

Country’s August crude oil imports rose 9.9 percent to 42.17 million tons

China will take key measures to increase capacity, tap more oil resources and establish better systems for the production, supply, storage and sale of natural gas in an effort to further enhance energy security, according to the country’s top energy regulator.

“Due to the particular ‘rich coal, meager oil and deficient gas’ energy structure, China’s crude oil production grew slower than consumption growth in recent years,” said Zhang Jianhua, director of the National Energy Administration. “And China’s oil import dependency continued to deepen over the years.”

Zhang made the remarks on Friday at a State Council Information Office news conference in Beijing.

To help ensure the security of oil and gas supplies, more efforts are needed to increase investment in exploration and development of oil and gas resources, tackle key scientific and research problems, speed up construction of key production bases, deepen institutional reforms and offer supportive policies.

“We’ve already made some progress, and will endeavor to keep oil dependency at a reasonable level,” Zhang added.

China aims to increase its annual domestic crude oil output to 200 million metric tons by 2022. The output stood at 190 million tons in 2018, and is expected to hit 191 million tons this year.

Retail prices of gasoline and diesel in China were higher on Thursday as international oil prices soared following attacks on a major oil-processing facility and oilfield in Saudi Arabia.

Zhang said the attacks in Saudi Arabia will not affect China’s oil supply.

“We won’t gamble on depending on any particular country or region. And we always attach great importance to diversifying importing channels and we’ve worked well at that,” Zhang noted.

Lin Boqiang, director of Xiamen University’s China Centre for Energy Economics Research, warned any rise in international oil prices means that Chinese consumers will have to pay a lot more, as China’s refined oil prices are closely linked to international markets.

A$1 rise in international oil prices would cost Chinese consumers an extra 3.5 billion yuan ($494 million) or so a year.

China imported 42.17 million tons of crude oil in August, up 9.9 percent year-on-year.

Lin said China needs to pay more attention to energy security.

“It is indeed a matter of national security and we should beef up efforts to reach the goal of energy independence which will definitely take a long time. We need to not only diversity import sources, but also look for alternatives to reduce oil dependency, such as encouraging people to take public transportation and purchase electric vehicles.”

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