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China will import an estimated 300 million tons of crude oil this year, accounting for 60 percent of the country’s total oil needs.

Zhang Guobao, the former head of China’s National Energy Administration, said China is now the world’s largest energy producer and consumer.

Total consumption was 3.62 billion tons of standard coal equivalent in 2012, and 270 million tons of crude oil were imported last year.

He was speaking at the China-Arab States Expo held Sept. 15 — 19 in China’s northwest Ningxia province.

China’s reliance on foreign natural gas has reached 28 percent of overall natural gas use.

Around 60 percent of China’s oil imports are from Middle East oil producers, with Saudi Arabia the largest supplier.

Coal remains the dominant fuel source with a 67 percent share in primary fuel consumption, Zhang said.

Xu Hongcai, a senior economist at think tank China Center for International Economic Exchanges, cited three reasons for China’s growing reliance on foreign oil imports — economic development, unbalanced industrial structure skewed towards manufacturing, and inadequate domestic oil production hindered by technological obstacles.

To reduce foreign dependence and enhance national energy security, Xu advocated enlarging oil and gas exploration, reducing total energy consumption, and using more coal liquefaction and green energy.

Source: Xinhua News (新华网), People’s Daily Online (人民网)