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Chinese Company Buys Rare Cargo of North Sea Oil

China’s Unipec, the trading division of Sinopec, has bought a rare cargo of North Sea oil amid lukewarm local demand.

Citing unnamed sources from the oil trading industry, Reuters reported today that the cargo comes from Norway’s Johan Sverdrup field and will be delivered in May. The volume of the cargo was 8 million barrels—the largest volume of North Sea oil that a Chinese company has bought since February 2022, the report noted, citing data from Kpler.

Previously, Norwegian oil from the Johan Sverdrup field was a frequent participant in the Chinese import mix but this changed after the European Union imposed an embargo on Russian energy imports, redirecting its own demand to locally available crude of a similar grade.

Unipec also made news earlier this year in relation to a new bill that effectively banned sales from the strategic petroleum reserve to Chinese business entities. The Sinopec division had bought 1 million barrels of SPR oil back in 2022 when the Biden administration unleashed close to 200 million barrels on markets to calm retail fuel prices down.

The Chinese company is also active in LNG and is among the long-term buyers of the product from Venture Global, which has been embroiled in a dispute with several of its funders for months.

BP, Shell, Repsol, Eni, and Edison, as well as Polish Orlen, have requested that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission not extend a construction permit for Venture Global that would allow the company to continue prioritizing spot sales over its long-term contractual obligations.

That clause in its contracts has allowed Venture Global to make billions from selling so-called pre-commission cargos of LNG on the spot market while supplying zero LNG to its long-term clients.

Now, Unipec has also joined the fray, taking the side of the long-term clients, some of whom have also filed an arbitration suit against Venture Global.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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