China’s crude oil imports fall as buying frenzy fades

China’s crude oil imports fall as buying frenzy fades
A police officer keeps watch as a Kuwaiti oil tanker unloads its cargo at Qingdao in China’s eastern Shandong province. (AFP)
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Updated 08 November 2020

China’s crude oil imports fall as buying frenzy fades

China’s crude oil imports fall as buying frenzy fades
  • Independent refineries exhaust import quotas amid soaring inventory levels

BEIJING: China’s crude oil imports slipped 12.2 percent in October from the previous month as refiners hit the brakes after months of a buying frenzy that had raised crude inventory to a near-full level, and as independent refineries run out of import quotas.

China, the world’s No.1 crude oil importer, bought 42.56 million tons of the resource last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Saturday. That is equal to 10 million barrels per day (bpd).

The October imports compared with 11.8 million bpd in September and 10.72 million bpd in October of last year.

Over January-October, China took in a total of 458.56 million tons of crude oil, the data showed, equivalent to 11 million bpd, up 10.6 percent from the same period last year.

Analysts had estimated that China’s implied crude inventories grew by an average 1.7 million bpd over the first three quarters.

Many independent refineries, who account for almost a quarter of China’s total crude oil imports, have nearly used up all import quotas for 2020.

But the tide could be changing.

“Buying interest has shown signs of picking up recently as port congestion has eased further and the government recently issued total import quotas for 2021,” said Chen Jiyao, head of China client advisory at FGE.

China will raise 2021 non-state crude oil import quotas by 20 percent from the 2020 level to 243 million tons.

Chinese customs also released data showing that the country’s refined oil product exports for October rose 46.6 percent from a month ago to a total of 5.79 million tons.

Natural gas imports, including piped and liquefied natural gas, were 7.53 million tons in October, up 15.5 percent from a year earlier.

State-backed energy giants had predicted China’s gas demand to grow about 10 percent this winter.


Saudi Arabia pips Russia to be China’s biggest oil supplier in 2020

Saudi Arabia pips Russia to be China’s biggest oil supplier in 2020
Updated 4 min 2 sec ago

Saudi Arabia pips Russia to be China’s biggest oil supplier in 2020

Saudi Arabia pips Russia to be China’s biggest oil supplier in 2020
  • Oil demand in China, the world’s top oil importer, remained strong last year
  • Saudi shipments to China in 2020 rose 1.9 percent from a year earlier to 84.92 million tons

BEIJING/SINGAPORE: Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, beat Russia to keep its ranking as China’s top crude supplier in 2020, Chinese government data showed on Wednesday.
Oil demand in China, the world’s top oil importer, remained strong last year even as the coronavirus crisis hammered global appetite.
Chinese imports rose 7.3 percent to a record of 542.4 million tons or 10.85 million barrels per day (bpd).
Saudi shipments to China in 2020 rose 1.9 percent from a year earlier to 84.92 million tons, or about 1.69 million bpd, data from the General Administration of Chinese Customs showed.
Russia was a close second with shipments of 83.57 million tons, or 1.67 million bpd, up 7.6 percent from 2019, the data showed.
In December, Saudi supplies were 6.94 million tons, down 0.8 percent from the same month a year earlier, while Russian volumes fell 15.7 percent to 6.2 million tons.
China’s imports of US oil more than tripled in 2020 to 19.76 million tons, or 394,000 bpd, compared to a year earlier, as companies bought crude under a trade deal between Washington and Beijing.
Imports were 3.6 million tons in December.
China’s total purchases of major US energy products, including crude, liquefied natural gas, propane, butane and coal, were worth $9.784 billion in 2020, about 38.7 percent of the $25.3 billion target set out in the Phase 1 trade deal.
Saudi Arabia has played catch up as a supplier since November by cutting prices to woo customers, overtaking Russia, which had led for most of 2020 with more flexible transport options and geographical proximity to Chinese refiners.
US sanctions nearly choked off oil exports from Iran and Venezuela, while Iraq was the main beneficiary.
Iraq’s oil exports to China rose 16.1 percent to 60.12 million tons in 2020, making it China’s third largest oil supplier.
Cashing in on lower prices and with aggressive marketing to China’s independent refiners, Brazil expanded oil exports to China to become its fourth biggest supplier last year.
Brazil’s oil exports to China rose 5.1 percent to 42.19 million tons.