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China to be main buyer of Iraqi oil by 2030: IEA

By Li Xiang in Paris and Du Juan in Beijing (China Daily)

09:05, November 13, 2012

China will become the main customer for Iraqi oil by the 2030s, with the Middle Eastern country overtaking Russia to become the world's second-largest oil exporter by then, the International Energy Agency said on Monday.

China will also continue to invest substantially in Iraqi oil production infrastructure, the agency said in its annual world energy report.

But one expert reminded Chinese companies to prepare for possible political risks in Iraq even though that country has become more stable since the Iraq war.

The agency's chief economist, Fatih Birol, said: "Iraq will emerge as a major new oil producer by the 2030s. Its main customer will be China, and half of Iraqi oil production will go to China."

The agency is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization set up in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis, and Birol is responsible for its annual World Energy Outlook, recognized as the most authoritative source for strategic analysis of global energy markets.

The agency predicts that oil output in Iraq will exceed 6 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2020 and rise to more than 8 mb/d by 2035.

Iraq only accounted for 5 percent of China's oil imports last year, or about 275,000 barrels per day, and currently produces about 3.3-3.5 mb/d.

In its report, the agency predicts the United States will become the world's largest oil producer, overtaking Saudi Arabia, by around 2020. It says this will lead to a continued fall in oil imports by the US, which is likely to become a net oil exporter by about 2030.

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