Angola looks to China as US oil exports drop

As the ‘shale gale’ revolutionises American energy consumption, China is soaking up surplus oil exports.

Angola’s oil exports to America fell 34% last year, according to the US Energy Information Administration, as the world’s largest oil producer relies less and less on imports to meet demand. As the oil economy balance shifts, the West African nation is looking increasingly to China to plug the gap.

Jose B. de Vasconcelos, Angola’s petroleum minister, reported that, while US exports now made up only 15% of the  country's total net exports, China now soaks up 40%, making it Angola's s largest single export destination.

According to the International Energy Agency, Angola was the world’s number eight net exporter of crude in 2010. With more than 54% of the population living below the national poverty line of $1.25 per day, Angola is heavily reliant on oil-backed loans to sustain its economy.

The Angolan government is already planning to increase oil production to two million barrels per day by 2014 or 2015, up 14% from current production levels 1.75m bpd.

However, Mr Vasconcelos expressed concern for recent news of production slumps in the EU, China and India. “If there is a big drop in the growth […] they will consume less, which provokes a change in the price of petroleum. We could continue to produce more but it would be at a reduced price.”