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Asia's Oil Imports Declined in the First Half of 2024

Crude oil imports into Asia declined slightly in the first half of the year contrary to expectations of a steady rise, LSEG data has shown, as reported by Reuters columnist Clyde Russell.

Per the data, Asian oil buyers imported 27.16 million barrels daily over the first six months of the year. This was down by 130,000 bpd from a year earlier, mostly because of weaker imports into China, Russell reported.

It’s worth noting that oil imports into China hit a record high last year, at some 11.28 million barrels daily. When the data was reported in early 2024, expectations were for a slowdown in imports this year, on the back of the country’s real estate market turmoil.

Over the first half of this year, China’s overseas oil purchases came in at an average 11.08 million barrels—a palpable if not major decline from last year’s record. This decline is bound to sow doubt among traders betting on another strong year for Chinese oil imports—and prices.

India’s oil imports, on the other hand, grew steadily over the first half of the year, with the latest figure, for May, at 5.1 million barrels daily. That was up by some 5.6% from April, Reuters reported last month. Over the first six months of the year, India’s imports stood at an average of 4.85 million barrels daily.

The overall decline in Asian oil imports is going counter to forecasts about demand growth in the world’s biggest regional driver. The International Energy Agency, for instance, expects global oil demand to grow by 960,000 barrels daily this year, of which some 900,000 bpd would come from Asia.

OPEC is as usual more bullish, expecting Asia’s oil demand to expand by 1.3 million barrels daily this year, with 720,000 bpd of this coming from China, Reuters’ Russell noted in his report. The latest actual import data suggests this sort of demand growth would be difficult to achieve.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 01 2024 said:
    A reduction of Asia's crude oil imports by 130,000 barrels a day (b/d) is so insignificant that it could be due to a statistical error, or delivery delays or even a lot of crowding at ports. The important thing is that US-led Asia's crude demand has been trending upward year after year and therefore 2024 will be no exception to this trend.

    China and Asian countries belong to the vibrant half of the global economy which is enjoying fastest growth in the world with least debts and lowest inflation. So one should expect continued growing oil and energy demand from Asian countries well into the future with both China and India leading the growth.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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