The shift toward clean sources of energy in China will lead to oil demand peaking in the country by 2026, according to the acting chairman of state oil giant Sinopec.

Ma, who was addressing delegates attending the global carbon neutrality and energy transition forum held in Beijing this week, did not give a figure for China’s peak oil consumption.

While much of China's petroleum is used to power vehicles and run machines, beyond 2026 Ma said hydrocarbons would mainly be used as feedstock for chemical production.

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Ma’s oil forecast for peak demand forecast differs slightly from a forecast made by China National Petroleum Corporation, which earlier this year said that China's petroleum demand would peak in 2025 at between 730 million and 750 million tonnes per annum — equivalent to between 14.6 million and 15 million barrels per day.

In comparison demand in China totalled about 702 million tonnes — equivalent to about 14.1 million bpd -in 2020.

Ma said he expects fossil fuel consumption will steadily decline and account for 42% of the country’s total energy consumption by 2040, compared with 85% last year.

China has pledged to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060, with Ma stating the country was currently outlining an action plan for the 2030 target.

Ma added that natural gas will play a key role in the energy transition drive, with demand to increase to 620 billion cubic metres by 2040, compared to 326 Bcm last year.

“By around 2050, gas will be China’s leading fossil fuel,” he said.

Fossil fuel producers in China now face the double challenge of ensuring oil and gas supply while pursuing green development.

To this end, Sinopec is on a mission to build what Ma calls green oilfields and green refineries by cutting emissions during production and utilising carbon capture and storage technology.

Sinopec is also focused on cutting the cost of the green hydrogen production and finding a pathway to commercial production of the clean fuel.

The company has already laid out plans to increase the number of hydrogen refilling stations to 1000, charging and battery swap stations to 5000 and distributed photovoltaic power stations to 7000 by 2025.