Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How much of Africa's oil is going to China?

Looking into oil exports from Africa today -- an intern wrote up a story on a recent talk I gave. She sent me a draft, and I saw that she had mistakenly heard me say that China was taking 90 percent of Africa's resources (what I had actually said was that natural resources and commodities make up 90 percent of Chinese imports from Africa).

I know a lot of people still believe that China is vacuuming up the vast majority of Africa's resource exports. So what is the data? Let's look at oil. According to the US government's Energy Information Administration (EIA) China is importing 22% of sub-Saharan Africa's oil.

Thanks to fracking and shale gas, the US has cut way back on sub-Saharan African oil. We only imported 13% of SSA's oil exports in 2012. Europe gets the most: 28%.  So, China imports 22% of sub-Saharan African oil and "the West," 41%.

What about North Africa? The major producers there are Libya (Europe has 71%, China has 12%, the US 4%) and Algeria (Europe gets 72%, "Asia" gets 10%). If this was added to the totals, China's percent would shrink and Europe's would expand.

China is a big consumer of African resources -- timber, cotton, copper -- but as far as oil, it is still quite a bit smaller than "the West".


  1. Thank you for providing some hard data on this topic!
    Here’s some more data if we look at this from the point of view of China’s energy(oil) security.

    1. How much crude oil had China imported in 2013?
    According to the 2013 report by the Ministry of Land Resources of PRC,
    China had imported 281.95 mn tons of crude oil, and consumed 500 mn tons.
    Source: www.mlr.gov.cn/xwdt/jrxw/201404/t20140422_1313354.htm

    A report by CNPC Economics Technology Research Institute(《2013年国内外油气行业发展报告》) estimates that China’s oil need will grow 4% in 2014, reaching 518 mn tons. Net import of crude oil is projected to reach 298 mn tons.
    Source: http://wallstreetcn.com/node/73305

    2. While 22% of SSA oil is exported to China, where does it stand among all China’s import sources?

    China's oil import source is quite diverse. According to the EIA 2013 report, the only African country that make to the top ten list of China's sources of crude oil import is Angola (12%, 2nd place). Congo is the 11th (2%).

    3. China is increasing its overseas oil production.

    There has been a significant increase of oil production from China's acquisitions of overseas IOCs. Most of such increase are contributed from West Africa, Brazil and North America. China also strikes oil-for-loan deals with countries to secure oil supply. African countries that fall into this category are Angola and Ghana.

    4. What is China doing to address its oil security?

    China’s increasing reliance on oil imports necessitates the following strategies:
    1) constructs strategic oil reserves (China plans to build strategic crude oil storage capacity of at least 500 million barrels by 2020);
    2) diversifies oil import sources; (dropped imports from Sudan and South Sudan were made up by imports from other Middle Eastern Countries, Angola, Venezuela, and Russia) Source:
    3) allows its private sector to import crude oil (one oil company already got approved to import crude oil from Kazakhstan); Source: http://www.nbd.com.cn/articles/2014-08-28/859370.html