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China overtakes U.S. as biggest energy consumer - IEA

Cooling towers at a thermal power plant are pictured near Pingguoyuan in Beijing City, October 5, 2010. REUTERS/Joel Boh/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - China has become the world’s largest energy user, having overtaken the United States, the head of the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday.

“China is now the largest energy consumer by our definition,” the executive director of the Paris-based IEA, Nobuo Tanaka, told an industry conference.

“Probably half of the oil demand increase comes from China. Nobody knows when it (will) slow down.”

The IEA advises 28 developed countries. China is not a part of the IEA but the agency monitors the country as its oil demand can have a significant impact on prices.

Tanaka said Iraq, which has just revised up its estimates of proven oil reserves by 25 percent, could have a major influence on the oil market.

“Iraq can be a game changer. We need Iraq oil,” Tanaka said.