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Chinese crude oil purchases from the United States jumped by 77.3 percent from September to average 208,000 bpd in October, helping the U.S. to become China’s ninth largest crude oil supplier, according to data by China’s General Administration of Customs.
The U.S. had not exported crude oil to China in October last year.
This year, China has been a consistent buyer of U.S. oil, and it even outranked Canada as America’s biggest buyer in April, according to the latest available monthly EIA data through August.
According to an S&P Global Platts survey, the increased U.S. oil exports to China in October were likely the result of more purchases from state-held oil refiners, because imports by independent refiners—the so-called teapots—dropped by 42 percent compared to September.
Sinopec’s international trading arm Unipec was actively offered U.S. oil, and the Sinopec Qilu refinery received its first U.S. crude oil cargo—a Mars crude cargo—last month, Platts says.
Unipec’s president Chen Bo said last week that he expected the company to double its U.S. crude imports next year to satisfy the growing demand of local refiners. This year, Unipec is set to import some 6 million tons of U.S. crude, or 120,000 bpd.
Chinese imports of U.S. crude oil are further poised to rise next year, trading sources tell Platts.
Between January and October, Chinese purchases of North American crude oil soared to 150,000 bpd from 15,500 bpd for the same period last year, driven by increased imports from the U.S.
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North America’s market share in China rose to 1.8 percent in the first ten months of 2017 from just 0.2 percent for the year-ago period.
Two weeks ago, U.S. crude oil exports to Asia hit their highest in two months, and the second-highest on record, at 877,000 bpd, according to data from Kpler. The biggest buyer of U.S. crude in Asia was South Korea, which took 357,000 bpd of exports. China came in second, importing 222,000 bpd of U.S. crude, and India completed the top three, buying 151,000 bpd of U.S. oil.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for OIlprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.