Chinese Oil Imports Support Oil Prices and Tanker Market
Chinese crude oil imports continue to be a major supportive factor for oil prices as they remain in record high levels. As we can see in Graph 1, provided by Business Insider, chinese oil imports are in high corelation with growing oil prices. Although high oil prices are a headache for ship owners, as they increase their cost, for the tanker market the growth of chinese economy and higher oil imports is a very important gift ant one of the major reasons that support their freight rates. But at the same time, as a Feature BIMCO article underlines, China is a very important market for the whole shipping industry as ?The Chinese economic whirlwind has underpinned much of the growth in the shipping industry over the past decade. Most notably, a growing fleet of bulk carriers has been utilised to feed the industrial powerhouse with raw materials such as iron ore and coal while larger and larger vessels have been added to the flotilla of container ships carrying Chinese manufactured goods to world markets?.
According to Chinese official data, China"s crude oil imports have declined in January 2010 to 4.04 mb/d, which represents a decline compared to the record high import of last month of 20%, but still 33% higher than crude oil imports last year, which were 3.03 mb/d.
Imports of oil products stood at 0.79 mb/d, 25% lower than the month before and 6% lower than the previous year. Diesel imports remained on the top of the product imports list in January with an average of 320 tb/d, indicating a decline of 85 tb/d or 20% compared to the previous month. Jet fuel followed with 119 tb/d in January, lower by 7 tb/d from the previous month. The increase in import tax for some products supported the decline in product imports.
China total product exports averaged 721 tb/d in January, a decline of 250 tb/d or 25% compared to the previous month. Exports of gasoline on average stood at 165.000 b/d, compared to 269.000 b/d the previous month. Average exports of diesel slightly declined to 112.000 b/d for January compared to 269.000 b/d the month before.
As a result, China net oil imports averaged 4.08 mb/d in January, a decline of 944 tb/d or 19 % compared to the previous month. The decline in both crude oil and product imports was behind the drop in January, as exports declined.
Angola was China"s top crude oil supplier in January, supplying about 0.8 mb/d or 20% of China"s total crude imports. Angola"s crude exports to China declined from the month before which stood at 0.95 mb/d, but increased in January from 0.52 mb/d last year. Saudi Arabia supplied 0.69 mb/d, down from 1.2 mb/d in December, which represents a share of 17%. Iran supplied 0.26 mb/d, down from 0.35 mb/d a month earlier, which represents a 6.3% share. Altogether, OPEC Member Countries supplied
China with about 2.47 mb/d or 61% of its crude oil imports in January, down from 3.31 mb/d the previous month. Top non-OPEC crude oil suppliers in January include Russia with 0.30 mb/d, Sudan with 0.27 mb/d and Oman with 0.16 mb/d.