China needs at least 70 supertankers to carry all of its oil imports, according to the CEO of China Overseas Shipping Co (COSCO), the country's top shipping group. Speaking to reporters in Shenzhen Thursday, Wei Jiafu said COSCO was constructing seven Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) to operate in addition to its existing eight vessels. But he believes 70 VLCCs – each with 2 million barrel capacity – are required in total. China Shipping signed a US$450 million contract last week to build four VLCCs for delivery in 2009 and 2010, which will boost its carrying capacity to 100 million tonnes a year. China imported 127 million tonnes of crude oil and more than 30 million tonnes in oil products in 2005. Crude imports are expected to surpass 200 million tonnes in 2010 and the government wants domestic ships to carry 50% of oil imports by then, up from less than 20% now.