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Crude Economics
China Goes on a Global Oil Buying Spree

Beijing is snatching up crude from every corner of the world these days. OPEC’s production cuts have meant less oil coming out of the Middle East, and as a result the price of crude from that part of the world has risen. China is taking notice, and are shopping around for cheaper (and more reliable) suppliers. We learned earlier this week that China overtook Canada as the world’s biggest buyer of American crude in February, and now, as Bloomberg reports, Beijing is buying record amounts of oil from West Africa:

West African producers led by Angola and Nigeria are poised to send crude to China at the rate of 1.48 million barrels a day in April, the most since Bloomberg began compiling the data in August 2011, according to loading programs and traders. Overall Asian imports of West African crude are poised to reach 2.4 million barrels a day this month, also a record. […]

“The Chinese look to be soaking up a lot of crude again,” said Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS Group AG in Zurich. “The economy seems to be doing better, so domestic demand is higher.”

China is also buying a lot more crude from North Sea suppliers as it seeks to meet growing domestic demand. The IEA projects that China could usurp the United States as the world’s top oil buyer by the end of the year, and is on track to become the world’s biggest oil refiner over the next few years.

The latest round of petrostate cuts are a concern for a buyer with growing needs like China, but America’s surging shale supplies (and its ability to now export that tight oil) are giving Beijing a stable option. Still, China is diversifying its crude portfolio to include suppliers from nearly every corner of the planet.

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  • Donatella

    There have been OPEC cuts, primarily in the heavier barrels but Saudis are selling light crudes to China aggressively and much cheaper. They just reduced the OSP for light crude to Asia, which is now priced on a formula of Oman/Dubai minus 30 cents. Iran as well is pricing at Oman/Dubai minus 20 cents. The reason for this is to try to elbow out the US which is now exporting its light sweet shale barrels to China.

  • Kneave Riggall

    China is stocking up on commodities for when the NORKs drop the bomb . . . Seoul or Tokyo or Hawaii? Decisions, decisions.

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