Chinese state media reported on Tuesday that Beijing would add 100 million tonnes to its refining capacity by 2010.

China processed a record 273 million tonnes of crude oil last year, up 13.7% from the year before, marking the fastest growth rate in three decades. 

"Fast-growing domestic demand for finished oil products has given full play to the surplus refining capacity that had lain idle for a dozen years," the Xinhua news agency cited the president of China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association as saying.

"It has been top of the agenda for the country's oil giants to develop and expand oil refining capacity," Tan Zhuzhou said.

Economic growth
  
Boosting domestic refining capacity is a key element in China's plans for coping with its enormous appetite for energy, and fits into a larger strategy to rely more on the country's own resources to the greatest possible extent.

Tan's remarks echoed a statement made by Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing earlier this month, saying China would rely mainly on domestic oil resources to fuel its economic growth.

Consumption of crude oil in China, already the second-largest user after the United States, will jump to 320 million tonnes this year, an 11% rise over the 288 million tonnes used last year, according to earlier predictions.

A net importer of petroleum products since 1993 and of crude oil since 1996, China is reliant on overseas producers for one third of its supplies, a share that may rise as Asia's second-largest economy continues to expand.