CONTACT: Patrick Creighton, 202.870.0850

August 19, 2009

Laura Henderson, 202.380.5758

Insatiable: China Ups Oil Imports By 50% in 6 Months, Causes Significant Spike in Price of Oil

WASHINGTON – The price for a barrel of oil jumped more than four percent in trading this afternoon, driven in part by news from the Energy Department that a much-higher-than-expected 8.4 million barrels of oil were drawn down from domestic stocks this week.

But the price spike was also driven by reports from China–specifically, that the communist nation of 1.3 billion has ratcheted up its monthly oil imports by a staggering 50 percent since February.

Institute for Energy Research (IER) president Thomas J. Pyle issued the following statement:

“For those who thought the current economic downturn meant a summer sabbatical from high energy costs, today’s news should clear the deck of that idea and sharpen the public’s attention on what our competitors in China are doing to grow their economy.

“The Chinese government may not have much use for markets, freedom or individual rights, but they’ve got plenty of use for affordable energy. And while U.S. policymakers continue to think up new and creative ways to deny Americans access to their own energy resources, the Chinese are hard at work acquiring energy assets wherever they are, from whomever they’re owned, at any price, in any market, on any terms.

“The upshot? Less oil for purchase on the world market, higher prices for consumers here in the United States. And all because we refuse to grant reasonable access to the energy our country needs to compete, grow and prosper in the world economy.

NOTE: In February 2009, Chinese oil imports were recorded at 3.1 million barrels per day, down from an average of 3.87 million barrels per day in 2008. But from March to June oil imports averaged over 4 million barrels per day and in July jumped to an unprecedented 4.6 million barrels per day – nearly a 50 percent increase relative to February.


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