VIENNA, April 3 (UPI) -- Chinese oil demand is expected to surpass the United States by next year in part because of North American production gains, OPEC said.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in a report sent to Bloomberg News that China may take on more than 6 million barrels of oil per day by the end of 2013. By next year, U.S. oil imports may drop to less than that mark, the cartel said.
In its March report, OPEC said the Chinese economy was expected to grow 8.1 percent this year. Chinese crude oil imports for January were near historic levels at 5.92 million barrels per day, a 6 percent increase from December.
The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration, meanwhile, said it expects U.S. oil production to reach 7.9 million bpd by next year, suppressing the need for foreign imports.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said from Doha that his recent trip to China left him with a sense of optimism over the global oil markets.
OPEC's market report for April is due next week.