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A Major Red Flag? Chinese Oil Demand Growth Could Shrink 60% In 2017

Petchem storage

Chinese growth of crude oil imports may likely shrink by more than 60 percent next year, as storage facilities are filling in and smaller refiners face more scrutiny over taxes and licenses, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

According to Energy Aspects analyst Michal Meidan, Chinese crude oil imports are expected to grow by 5 to 9 percent in 2017, compared to an estimated growth of 11 to 14 percent this year.

According to customs data quoted by Bloomberg, Chinese imports increased by 14 percent to average 7.5 million bpd between January and November this year. The median estimate of 8 analysts in the survey showed that China would increase oil purchases by 4.8 percent on the year in 2017.

In addition, China has been bumping up crude oil imports while port and pipeline infrastructure has not been keeping up with development fast enough, which could also reduce the growth of imports.

For the small refiners, the so-called ‘teapots’, they are allocated import quotas to which they need to stick to. As of October of this year, 17 teapots had been allocated a combined quota of 1.35 million bpd for 2016, while a dozen other small refiners are in the process of being approved.

According to Pang Guanglian, deputy secretary general of the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation—one of the associations reviewing import quotas—the amount of additional new quotas for private refiners could fall “significantly” next year compared to this year, Bloomberg said.

A few months ago, the Chinese authorities announced an attempt to impose stricter control on taxes paid by independent refineries. According to a Platts analysis, this might potentially result in slowed short-term crude import plans, although it was unlikely to lead to substantial impacts in the longer run.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • EH on December 09 2016 said:
    Demand is down,, but need for ENERGY isn't,,. Perhaps these so called intelligent wall street tycoons need a lesson or two in human behavior,, people in general are not stupid,, they have needs as well as UN-MET NEEDS. Give them motivation,,"REASON" and they'll find or make there own alternative to meet those wants after,,there needs. You the lucky silverspoon,silvertougned may,,, just have to put off those plans of the exotic vacations, fancy second,,third or extra mansions in order too take care of YOUR own or your children's NEEDS, medical,housing, medicine,, food or education,, for a CHANGE,,WELCOME TO EARTH!
  • Jack Ma on December 09 2016 said:
    It is not really a red flag mostly because it is speculation only and in addition if by some chance this 'Army Ant Nation' of 'Massive Everything' does use less oil and oil drops, it is one more buy opportunity to sink one's teeth into oil as a non-substitutable good.

    Chop Chop.

    IMHO
  • Prashanta on December 09 2016 said:
    Nothing too surprising here. Imports for filling up strategic reserves must go down once they are full! In addition to full reserves, with improved fuel efficiency and a big push for electrification of vehicles, it's amazing that there is any growth at all.
  • adec on December 08 2016 said:
    This article reminds me of Gartman, who claimed that oil will not pass 40 in his lifetime...

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