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Chang'an avenue in Beijing

China has overtaken the US as the biggest net oil importer, according to new data released by the US government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

EIA said that in September oil consumption in China outstripped domestic production by 6.3 million barrels a day, meaning China had to import that amount to make up for the gap, while the figure in the US is 6.24 million barrels per day.

EIA says in a report that “China’s steady growth in oil demand has led it to become the world’s largest net oil importer, exceeding the United States in September 2013,” a trend expected to continue through 2014.

The status shift is not only fueled by China’s growing domestic demand, but also because of the persistent decline in US oil demand, as a result of new fuel economy for vehicles and decreased car use, the Financial Times says.

The US topped the world’s largest net oil importer in the 1970s due to production decline, but surpassed Russia to become the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas this year thanks to a boom in non-conventional energy production such as shale gas.

In the past five years, China’s oil demand has surged a stunning 40%  while oil production increased by only about 10% in the same period. A strong demand growth coupled with sluggish production growth indicates the county will rely more on foreign oil sources.