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Asian Oil Imports Dropped in April

Asian crude oil imports fell in April from March, according to estimates by LSEG Oil Research, suggesting sluggish growth in Asia’s crude purchases so far this year.

Last month, Asia – the bellwether of crude imports and implied import demand – saw imports averaging 26.89 million barrels per day (bpd), per LSEG Oil Research data cited by Reuters’s Asia Commodities and Energy Columnist, Clyde Russell.

The April imports declined from 27.33 million bpd of crude oil Asia imported in March and were flat compared to the 26.68 million bpd of imports in February, the LSEG Oil Research data showed. 

Asia’s crude oil imports averaged 27.03 million bpd between January and April, which is only 300,000 bpd above the crude arrivals in the first four months of 2023, according to the data.  

While imports are not necessarily indicative of demand, the slow growth in Asia – the top-importing region – so far this year may raise some concerns about oil demand. The slippage in imports could also be a sign that importers did not rush to purchase crude while prices were rising above $80 per barrel in February and March, the months in which purchases were nominated and made for April cargo arrivals.

At any rate, forecasters, including OPEC that sees Asia as its most important market, expect global oil demand to start picking up in the driving season and summer months as more people travel and go on vacation.

Global oil demand in the summer is expected to be strong as consumption of transportation fuels is set to rise across the board and across regions with summer and holiday travel picking up, OPEC said in its latest Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) for April.  

The group has a “robust oil demand outlook for the summer months.” 

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OPEC continues to expect global oil demand growth of 2.2 million bpd for 2024, broadly unchanged from the March assessment. The cartel still sees “robust growth” of 1.8 million bpd in 2025 compared to 2024.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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