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China Imports First U.S. Crude Oil In Months

Oil tanker

A tanker capable of carrying up to 600,000 barrels of oil is discharging U.S. Eagle Ford crude oil into China’s eastern port of Qingdao on Friday, Reuters reported, quoting Refinitiv ship-tracking data and trade sources, in what would be the first Chinese import of American crude oil in months.

The Aframax tanker the Kara Sea is discharging the light crude Eagle Ford in the Chinese port, after the U.S.-origin oil had been transferred to the Kara Sea tanker from supertanker Olympic Luck, Refinitiv analyst Emma Li told Reuters.

The Kara Sea has been chartered by BP and the receiver of the Eagle Ford crude is independent Chinese refiner Hongrun Petrochemical based in the Shandong province, Refinitiv’s analyst said.

According to Reuters, the cargo of Eagle Ford will likely be included in China’s February import volumes by the Chinese customs.

Other ship-tracking data suggest that U.S. crude oil appears to be heading to China after many months of China abstaining from buying American oil amid the trade dispute, despite the fact that crude oil is not on Beijing’s tariff list.

China could soon import crude oil directly shipped from the United States,  CNBC reported earlier this week, citing tanker-tracking data from ClipperData.

Although tanker-tracking data currently shows that a tanker is en route to a Chinese port, the final destination may yet change as the estimated time of arrival is the middle of April. In the past couple of months, other crude oil tankers heading to Asia were first thought to be en route to China but they later changed their final destination to other countries in the region.  

According to ClipperData, a very large crude carrier (VLCC), Hong Kong Spirit, has recently loaded nearly 2 million barrels of U.S. oil at Moda Midstream’s Ingleside terminal near Corpus Christi, Texas. According to MarineTraffic, the current declared destination of the vessel is Yantai, China, with an estimated time of arrival on April 18.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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