|China's crude oil processing volume grew 29 percent year-on-year in January, as economic recovery pushed up demand for oil products.
The country processed 30.14 million tons of crude last month. Output of refined oil increased 24 percent to 18.59 million tons, according to the China Petroleum & Chemical Industry Association (CPCIA).
Economic recovery is the main reason for the rapid growth, said Lin Boqiang, a professor at Xiamen University. "The solid economic rebound has spurred demand for oil products, and the growth will continue in the next few years."
Such growth will also push up the country's oil imports, he said.
China's January crude imports rose 33 percent from a year earlier, according to the General Administration of Customs.
According to a report released by the Research Institute of Economics and Technology at China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) this month, China's crude imports are likely to go up by 9.1 percent this year.
The country's oil dependency reached alarming levels last year with imports accounting for 52 percent of the total consumption. Imports of more than 50 percent are the globally recognized level of an energy security alert.
Analysts said that China's oil imports are poised for further growth in the long run, as domestic production cannot keep pace with consumption.
According to a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), nearly 64.5 percent of China's oil consumption is likely to be met by imports in 2020, with the gap between domestic consumption and production seen as the main reason.
Oil production in the country will see a gradual decline after 2020, the CASS report said.
China needs to further diversify its oil imports to ensure energy security, analysts said.
At present the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific are the three main regions from which China imports oil.
Saudi Arabia, Angola and Iran were the top three countries from which China imported oil last year. Oil imports from the three countries accounted for 47.7 percent of the total imports last year, according to Customs data.
Saudi Arabia's oil exports to the United States last year sank below 1 million barrels a day for the first time in two decades just as China's purchases climbed above that level, highlighting the shift in the geopolitics of oil from west to east, the Financial Times reported.