WASHINGTON, May 22 (UPI) -- U.S. crude oil imports from African producers are declining because of domestic production and China is taking up the slack, the Energy Department said.
The rapid increase in the amount of crude oil produced in the United States is squeezing African producers out of the market.
The Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, said crude oil imports in general for the week ending May 16 were 6.4 million barrels per day, down nearly 10 percent from the previous report.
In its weekly report, published Wednesday, EIA said African crude oil exports to the United States were declining.
"African crude that until recently flowed to the United States has been diverted to serve European markets that have historically been served by Libya and to supply increased demand in Asian markets where, despite Libyan disruptions, deliveries of African crude have increased
Libyan security woes have curtailed its production capacity. EIA said other African producers have compensated for the loss of Libyan crude and oil exports to Europe have fallen only modestly since 2010.
For Asia, African crude oil exports are 400,000 barrels per day higher than they were in 2010 and it's China that's taking on most of the oil.
"China imported more than 1.2 million bpd of crude oil from Africa during the first four months of 2014, 22 percent of total African crude oil exports, and is now the world´s largest importer of African crude oil," EIA said.