China’s July crude imports from the US surged 524.4% from June to a fresh high of 3.67 million mt, or 866,793 b/d, propelling the producer to become China’s fifth largest supplier in the month, S&P Global Platts said on Tuesday, based on information obtained from the General Administration of Customs.
The US’ crude oil imports to China were last highest in January 2018 when inflows hit 2.01 million mt, or 474,450 b/d. The flow then slowed and dried up for a few months amid the China-US trade tensions.
In the second half of 2020, China’s is expected to overtake South Korea as the top Asian customer of US crude.
The country is poised to receive about 80 million barrels over July-December based on current buying pace, with Beijing stepping up efforts to comply with the Phase 1 trade deal it struck in January with Washington.
August is on track to have the largest volume of US crude delivered to China in a given month, expected to cross 30 million barrels, data intelligence firm Kpler said.
Meanwhile, at least seven China-bound cargoes, carrying around 14 million barrels of crude, have been scheduled for September loading in the US Gulf Coast in recent days with China as their destination, S&P Global Platts fixtures data showed. These will arrive through October-November.
SAUDI ARABIA LOSES TOP SEAT
On the contrary, crude shipments from leading OPEC producer Saudi Arabia slumped 39.7% to 5.36 million mt, or 1.27 million b/d, in July from the record high of 2.17 million b/d in June amid production cuts.
As a result, the kingpin fell behind Russia and Iraq to become the third largest crude supplier to China in July.
Klper said it was unlikely to see another peak of arrivals from Saudi Arabia in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Iranian crude inflow resumed in July with 498,026 mt, or 117,759 b/d, shipped. There were no Iranian crude imports in June for the first time since January 2007, when Platts first began tracking the GAC data.
Over January-July, Russia delivered 51.34 million mt, or 1.77 million b/d, of crude to China, jumping 18.4% year on year to become the top supplier during the period.
Russian inflows helped imports from OPEC+ suppliers to rise 7.4% year on year to 8.69 million b/d in the first seven months of the year, but the group’s market share fell to 78.9% from 81.9% a year ago.
In addition to Russia, supplies from Norway rocketed 6,679% year on year to 7.96 million mt in the first seven months, helping Europe to shot up its market share to 21.7% from 18.7% in the year ago period.
China’s crude imports jumped 11.5% year on year in January-July to 11.01 million b/d as it took full advantage of low crude prices in the first half of the year.
Source: S&P Global Platts