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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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Asia’s Physical Oil Market Strengthens In Sign Of Rising Demand

China and Japan have recently intensified purchases of crude oil on the spot market, driving spot premiums for some grades to their highest in several months and signaling that Asia’s physical demand for crude is rising despite the crisis in India, where fuel consumption is slumping.

The premiums for cargoes of some of Asia’s favorite grades such as ESPO of Russia and Al-Shaheen of Qatar have jumped in recent days to their highest in months, traders told Bloomberg on Wednesday.

Rising premiums, as well as deepening backwardation of the Dubai futures structure, are pointing to continued recovery in oil demand in the most important oil-importing region. Backwardation is the state of the market signaling tighter supplies with prompt prices higher than those further out in time.

The bullish signals of demand from China and Japan add to the signs that Europe’s demand has also started to recover as most of the largest economies are re-opening.

In the UK, for example, fuel sales surged earlier this month to their highest level since the first lockdown in March last year, according to government data cited by Bloomberg.

In Asia, India’s demand has unsurprisingly dropped in the past weeks, with gasoline sales estimated down to a one-year low and diesel consumption dropping to the lowest in seven months in the first two weeks of May.

But refiners in China and Japan have been raising crude oil purchases from the Middle East and Russia.

According to Bloomberg, Rongsheng Petrochemical Co of China bought as much as 12 million barrels of oil from Middle Eastern producers Iraq, Oman, and Abu Dhabi. This was the biggest purchase in seven months.

Japan’s refiners, for their part, have bought at least five oil cargoes of the Al-Shaheen grade from Qatar at the biggest premium this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com


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  • Mamdouh Salameh on May 20 2021 said:
    The Asia-Pacific region is the world’s biggest market for oil and energy. China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil, is driving both the global oil market and the Asia-Pacific market.

    With the return of the global economy to a semblance of normalcy, one would expect the global demand and prices to surge to $70-$80 a barrel by the third quarter of this year with global oil demand returning to pre-pandemic level of 101.0 million barrels a day (mbd) by the middle of the year.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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