U.S. government data show China passed the United States in September as the world's biggest net oil importer, driven by faster economic growth and strong auto sales.
The Energy Information Administration said this week Chinese oil consumption outstripped production by 6.3 million barrels per day, which indicates the country had to import that much to fill the gap. That surpassed the U.S. gap of 6.13 million barrels per day.
The agency said it expects that trend to continue next year.
China's economic growth has slowed but its forecast level of nearly 8 percent this year is well above U.S. forecasts. The Chinese auto market, the world's biggest by number of vehicles sold, is slowing but sales still rose by 11 percent in August.