That dollar total for mainland China’s spending on crude petroleum oil increased by 52.8% compared to $239.2 billion for 2018.
Year over year, China’s imports of crude oil accelerated by 41.6% from 41.6% in 2021 to 2022.
Crude oil is China’s second-most valuable imported good after integrated electronic circuits and microassemblies.
Forty-seven countries supplied crude petroleum oil to mainland China in 2022 including smaller suppliers like Albania, Algeria, Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam and Ivory Coast.
The top 5 exporters (Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Oman) furnished over three-fifths (61.2%) of China’s total crude oil imports in 2022.
More than half (54%) of Chinese imported crude oil originated from nine Middle Eastern nations ranging from $65 billion provided by leading supplier Saudi Arabia to $124.5 million worth of unprocessed petroleum from Egypt.
OPEC Crude Oil Supplied to China in US Dollars
China’s overall $365.5 billion worth of imported crude oil purchases was highly impacted by price-setting action initiated by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). However, that economic dependency has weakened over the past 5 years.
OPEC countries furnished 53.3% of China’s spending on crude oil imported in 2022, compared to 52% in 2018.
Year over year, the difference is more pronounced. OPEC was responsible for a 51.4% share for the prior year in 2021. This means that China’s buying from OPEC members increased by 1.9% to the 53.3% metric recorded during 2022.
For both OPEC and non-OPEC sales, crude oil is priced in American dollars on world markets. Economists explain that the US dollar is the only fiat currency with a large enough financial infrastructure to support the global trade of crude oil.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2022, the Chinese yuan depreciated by -1.8% against the US dollar since 2018 and diluted by -4.5% from 2021 to 2022. The weaker Chinese yuan makes China’s imported crude oil paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive when converted starting from Chinese yuans.
China’s Top Providers of Imported Crude Oil
Below are the top 15 countries that supplied 93.9% of the crude oil imported into mainland China during 2022.
- Saudi Arabia: US$65 billion (17.8% of China’s crude oil imports)
- Russia: $58.4 billion (16%)
- Iraq: $39.1 billion (10.7%)
- United Arab Emirates: $32.2 billion (8.8%)
- Oman: $29.2 billion (8%)
- Kuwait: $24.6 billion (6.7%)
- Angola: $22.6 billion (6.2%)
- Malaysia: $21.7 billion (5.9%)
- Brazil: $18.6 billion (5.1%)
- Qatar: $6 billion (1.6%)
- United States of America: $5.83 billion (1.6%)
- Colombia: $5.76 billion (1.6%)
- Congo: $5.2 billion (1.4%)
- Kazakhstan: $4.64 billion (1.3%)
- Norway: $4.55 billion (1.2%)
The 93.9% of Chinese imported crude oil during 2022 for the 15 main crude petroleum providers represents an uptick from the 91.5% recorded by China’s 15 major crude oil suppliers one year earlier in 2021.
Fastest-Growing Suppliers of China’s Imported Crude Oil
The value of Chinese purchases of crude oil from its top 15 suppliers amounted to a subtotal $343.3 billion in 2022, accelerating by an average 44.9% from the $236.9 billion worth of imported crude petroleum bought from the top 15 providers during 2021.
- Malaysia: Up 144.8% since 2021
- United Arab Emirates: Up 96.9%
- Kazakhstan: Up 91%
- Kuwait: Up 60.7%
- Saudi Arabia: Up 47.9%
- Iraq: Up 47.7%
- Russia: Up 44%
- Qatar: Up 40.9%
- Colombia: Up 32.7%
- Oman: Up 29.8%
- Brazil: Up 21.3%
- Congo: Up 18.6%
- Angola: Up 13.7%
- United States of America: Up 3.5%
- Norway: Down -32.8%
Fourteen of the top 15 crude oil exporters increased their international sales of crude oil to mainland China compared to 2021.
The sole decliner among China’s top 15 sources of crude oil were suppliers in Norway, pulled down by a -32.8% year-over-year drop.
Expanding the scope to include all crude oil suppliers to mainland China, there were 25 gainers from 2021 to 2022. Those increases ranged from triple-digit increases for Chad (up 464.7%), Australia (up 370.3%), Guyana (up 328%), Iran (up 279.3%) and Malaysia (up 144.8%) to more modest increases for providers in the United States of America (up 3.5%) and Angola (up 13.7%).
Leading the decliners were China’s crude oil sources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (down -70.5% since 2021), Nigeria (down -70.4%), Cameroon (down -65.6%), United Kingdom (down -59.1%) and Vietnam (down -50.7%).
See also Crude Oil Exports by Country, Crude Oil Imports by Country, China’s Top 10 Exports and China’s Top 10 Imports and Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on June 17, 2023
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on June 17, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 17, 2023
Wikipedia, List of crude oil products. Accessed on June 17, 2023