BEIJING, May 25 - China's oil demand will increase by up to one third by 2015 as car ownership grows fast from its current low base, an executive at a think-tank run by Asia's top oil refiner, Sinopec Group, said on Saturday.
Despite the current economic slowdown and government energy saving efforts, oil demand in the second-biggest oil consuming country will grow to 410 million-420 million tonnes in 2010 from around 380 million tonnes in 2008, said Mao Jiaxiang, vice president of Sinopec's institute for economic and technology research.
Demand could hit 500 million-530 million tonnes by 2015 and 570 million-620 million tonnes by 2020, he told a conference in Beijing.
"China's vehicle ownership has been very low and it has yet to enter a fast expansion period," Mao said. "China car ownership is 37.7 per 1,000 people. By international standards this is just the beginning of the expansion of car ownership."
He did not give a forecast for the number of cars likely to be on China's roads by 2015 or 2020.
Oil demand would grow 4.2-5.0 percent a year in the five years to 2015 before slowing to 2.3-3.5 percent a year in 2016-2020, he said.
China's consumption of gasoline, diesel and kerosene, 210 million tonnes last year, would be around 220 million tonnes in 2010, 300 million in 2015 and nearly 400 million tonnes in 2020.
But he warned that there was a lot of uncertainty in the forecasts because of many variable factors.