China has recently become a more significant destination for U.S. energy exports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. China has been one of the largest importers of U.S. exports of crude oil, propane and liquefied natural gas.
In 2017, China received more U.S. crude oil than any other destination except Canada. China imported more U.S. crude oil than the combined amount received by the third- and fourth-largest importers, the United Kingdom and Netherlands. Since 2013, China has imported more petroleum and other liquid fuels than any other country, and in 2017, it surpassed the United States as the largest importer of gross crude oil.
In 2017, China received the third most U.S. propane exports, behind Japan and Mexico. About half of U.S. propane exports went to Asian countries in 2017, and the exports displaced supplies from Middle Eastern countries and some regional production of propane. In Asia, countries use propane as a feedstock for producing ethylene and propylene, which are used in chemical and plastic manufacturing.
Between January and April, U.S. propane exports to China have fallen 31% to 92 million barrels per day, from the same period in 2017, but China remains the third-largest importer of U.S. propane.
In 2017, the United States exported 1.9 billion cubic feet per day of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and of that amount 15% went to China, making it the third-largest importer of U.S. LNG exports behind Mexico and South Korea. In 2017, China received nearly twice as much U.S. LNG as Japan, the next largest importer of U.S. LNG. Also that year, China surpassed South Korea to become the second-largest importer of LNG in the world.
Between January and April, China received 0.4 billion cubic feet per day of U.S. LNG, behind South Korea and Mexico, according to the EIA. India, as the next-largest importer of U.S. LNG, has received less than half the amount that China has imported so far in 2018.
Other petroleum products China receives from the United States includes petroleum coke and normal butane. China also imports some U.S. coal, and in 2017, it received 3.2 million short tons of U.S. coal, or about 3% of U.S. coal exports. China is the 10th-largest destination for the exports, and nearly 90% of the coal it’s received from the United States was metallurgical coal used in steel production.