Bad News: Record Oil Imports into China in 2023

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

China is well known as the world’s leading electric vehicle (EV) market. More than half of the world’s EV sales have occurred there in recent years. It is a standard of the rapid, uplifting EV revolution. In 2023, 25% of auto sales in China were sales of full electric vehicles. Nonetheless, that does mean 75% of sales were not full electric vehicles, and almost all of the oil-fueled vehicles already on the road in China remained there as well. At the end of the year, that meant, unfortunately, that China used a lot of oil. In fact, research shows that China imported a record amount of crude oil in 2023.

Data source: China General Administration of Customs, as compiled by Bloomberg L.P. Note: Many imports attributed to Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman originated in Iran and were relabeled to avoid detection. Top trading partners are all countries from which China imported more than 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil from 2020 to 2023. Congo=Congo-Brazzaville

“China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil, imported 11.3 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil in 2023, 10% more than in 2022, according to China customs data. Refiners in China imported record volumes of crude oil in 2023 to supply the country’s increasing refining capacity in order to support the country’s transportation fuel needs and produce feedstocks for its growing petrochemical industry,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) writes.

“Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq were China’s main sources of crude oil imports in 2023. Compared with 2022, China’s 2023 crude oil imports increased the most from Russia, Iran, Brazil, and the United States. China’s largest volumetric increase in crude oil imports in 2023 was from Russia.” Good company. “From 2019 to 2021, China obtained 15% of its crude oil imports from Russia, second only to Saudi Arabia. In 2023, Russia became China’s top source of crude oil imports, supplying 19% of China’s crude oil imports (2.1 million b/d). This increase was the result of discounts related to sanctions and price caps on crude oil from Russia following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.”

If you want to read more about China’s sources of crude oil and why those are its main sources, check out the EIA post on that. The fundamental issue, though, is that China is still using and importing a lot of oil. Not good news. But this just reminds us that we have a long way to go with EV sales in order to not just eliminate oil use, but even make a significant dent in oil use.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica.TV Videos

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

Zachary Shahan has 7403 posts and counting. See all posts by Zachary Shahan