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China Set To Continue Crude Oil Buying Spree, IEA Says

Although Chinese oil stocks data is opaque and hard to come by, various sources peg China’s storage capacity at up to 1 billion barrels, and assuming the estimate is accurate that China has around 850 million barrels of crude oil stocks now, it would likely continue with its buying spree in the next six months until it reaches capacity, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

According to various sources, China’s storage capacity is between 800 million and 1 billion barrels, the IEA said in its Oil Market Report on Thursday, as carried by Reuters.  

“If we use the upper limit of the range of Chinese storage capacity estimates, some 150 million barrels could still be available,” according to the Paris-based agency.

“If filling continues at a rate similar to 2017’s year-to-date average, it would take another six months to reach full capacity. Thus, the sharp slowdown seen in August-September may yet prove temporary,” the IEA noted.

“In the case of China, there is always a margin for error in data that is often derived rather than reported, but crude imports have fallen every month since June and the implied net build for China’s stocks in September was relatively small at 100 kb/d,” the IEA said.

China’s crude oil imports in August increased by 3.4 percent on the year, but that figure was their lowest monthly level in 8 months, due to some independent refiners—the so-called teapots—shutting for longer-than-planned maintenance as environmental inspections intensified.

The IEA has estimated that China’s oil stocks build-up hit a record 1 million bpd over the first half this year, but the levels have halved in the third quarter. 

Related: Texas Oil Production Remains Strong…But For How Long?

In Q4, China is not expected to build inventories, because oil demand is expected to remain strong, according to the IEA.

Referring to China’s oil demand growth, the agency said:

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“Looking at 2017 as a whole, we expect Chinese oil demand growth to accelerate to 540,000 bpd from 310,000 bpd in 2016, supported by the strength in the first half of 2017. For 2018, we expect growth to slow to 325,000 bpd.”  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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