China is expected to further increase crude oil imports from West Africa in February in spite of the country’s weak economic growth, with tankers estimated to load 1.38mb/d of crude, the highest daily level since July 2015, Bloomberg reported. Beijing has also expanded its oil purchases from producers in the North Sea and Russia.
Previously, China’s Sinochem had signed a new term deal for crude loading cargoes with Angola in 2015, which takes effect this month, Reuters informed. According to traders, as many as five cargoes a month are to be shipped to China, leaving less for the Angolan state-run company, Sonangol, to sell on the spot market.
Other oil traders from West Africa expressed interest in transporting cargoes to Chinese teapot refineries in light of the fact that Chinese independent refiners had been granted 1.45mb/d quotas of the country’s import. The move indicated Beijing’s commitment to the plan to open up its oil products market, which appears to be implemented faster than anticipated. China imported a record volume of crude already in December as the nation’s refineries boost runs to meet growing demand for gasoline in the world’s biggest automobile market and naphtha, an oil derivative used in the petrochemicals industry.
China’s rising crude import was met with a decline in oil products export to India sliding down to the lowest since January last year. Meanwhile, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and other Indian refiners announced plans to import Iranian crude instead. Tehran has targeted India, Asia’s fastest-growing oil market, as a primary destination for oil, and shipping schedules showed that India plans to import more than 300,000b/d of Iranian crude in February, up from 183,000b/d in January 2016.