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Asian Imports of Russian Crude Oil to Hit a 10-Month High in March

Rising crude imports from Russia in Asia’s top importers, China and India, are estimated to push total Asian oil imports to a 10-month high in March, per data from LSEG Oil Research reported by Reuters columnist Clyde Russell.

This month, higher arrivals of Russian crude to the top-importing markets in Asia are set to boost Asian crude imports to 27.48 million barrels per day (bpd), which would be the highest level in 10 months. The estimated import volumes in March would be higher than Asia’s 26.70 million bpd imports in February and the 27.18 million bpd arrivals in January this year, according to the LSEG Oil Research data.  

The higher arrivals would also be the result of oil prices below $80 per barrel at the time when cargoes were nominated and purchased.

But the recent rise in oil prices to above $85 per barrel Brent could slow down imports into China and India, and other Asian importers, in the coming months, Reuters’ Russell notes.

Early on Thursday, Brent Crude traded at above $87 per barrel as prices were set to book a strong quarterly gain in the first quarter. WTI prices have increased by 14% since the start of the year, topping $82 per barrel earlier this week. Brent Crude has gone from around $78 per barrel at the start of the year to over $87 per barrel this week. 

While rising oil prices could mean slower imports in Asia in April and May, the March imports are set to be the strongest for the continent in 10 months, led by a jump in Chinese imports.

Stranded cargoes of Russia’s Sokol crude, previously headed to India but idled off South Korea and Singapore since the U.S. stepped up sanctions enforcement, have started to make their way to China, beginning to clear a backlog of more than 10 million barrels of the grade sitting on tankers at sea.   

The world’s top oil importer is expected to import as much as 11.75 million bpd of crude in March, up from 11.16 million bpd in February and 10.44 million bpd in January, per the data compiled by LSEG Oil Research.  

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on March 28 2024 said:
    China-led Asia-Pacific region accounts currently for 47% of global GDP and this is projected to rise to 55% by 2030. Moreover, it is the most economically vibrant region in the world with annual growth in 2024 projected to average at 5% with the lowest inflation in the world.

    Therefore, it is no surprise that rising imports of Russian crude by China, India and other Asian countries will boost total Asian crude imports in March to 27.48 million barrels a day (mbd), which would be the highest level in 10 months and 3% higher than in February.

    Other than the solidity of global oil market fundamentals and robustness of demand, buyers are rushing to buy more crude before Brent crude hits $90 a barrel soon.

    China's oil imports are expected to reach 11.75 mbd in March or 5.3% higher than in February and 12.55% higher than January. Moreover, both China and India are continuing to import increasing volumes of Russian crude despite claims that some Indian refiners have reduced their purchases of Russian crude because of US sanctions.

    Dt Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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