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Crude oil imports into China were down 4.6% year-on-year during the first 11 months of 2022. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “2022 has turned out to be a very positive year for crude oil trade, despite the surging oil prices and risks of economic recession. In the first 11 months of 2022, global crude oil loadings were up +8.6% yo-y at 1,866.8 mln tonnes, excluding all cabotage trade, according to vessels tracking data from Refinitiv. This was well above the 1,718.3 mln tonnes in Jan-Nov 2021, but slightly below the 1,926.9 mln tonnes in the same period of 2019”.

Source: Banchero Costa

According to the shipbroker, “exports from Saudi Arabia are up +17.3% y-o-y to 331.1 mln t in JanNov 2022, above pre-Covid levels. Seaborne shipments from other AG countries are also up by +10.7% y-oy to 472.7 mln t in the same period, but still below pre-Covid levels. Exports from Russia have also increased by +11.7% y-o-y to 200.2 mln tonnes, slightly below the 206.6 mln t in the same period of 2019. From the USA, exports surged by +24.2% y-o-y to 149.2 mln t. From West Africa, however, volumes are down -3.0% y-o-y to 155.0 mln t. From the North Sea, exports are also down by -1.8% y-o-y to 98.3 mln tonnes in Jan-Nov 2022. In terms of demand, seaborne imports into the European Union (27) increased by +12.5% y-o-y to 411.9 mln t in Jan-Nov 2022. Imports to India also surged +11.6% y-o-y to 203.9 mln t in the same period. Mainland China is the largest importer of crude oil in the world after the European Union; it had previously overtaken the EU during 2020 and 2021, but has now once again slipped back to second place”.

Banchero Costa said that “in 2020, Mainland China imported 485.9 mln tonnes of crude oil by sea, excluding cabotage, according to Refinitiv vessel tracking data. This represented a net increase of +8.7% y-o-y compared to the 446.8 mln tonnes imported in 2019 and an all-time high, as the country took advantage of low crude prices and low demand from Europe. In 2021, however, China’s annual crude oil imports slid, dropping for the first time in several years, as Beijing clamped down on refining sector to curb excess domestic fuel production while refiners drew down massive inventories. In the 12 months of 2021, seaborne imports into China shrunk by -6.8% y-o-y to 452.8 mln tonnes. In the first 11 month of 2022, imports into China shrunk further by -4.6% y-o-y to 393.0 mln tonnes, the lowest since 2018, as a slowing economy and Covid lockdowns affected oil demand”.

Source: Banchero Costa

The shipbroker added that “about 82 percent of volumes discharged in China are carried in VLCCs, about 7 percent is carried in Suezmaxes, and about 10 percent in Aframaxes. Main crude oil import terminals in China are: Ningbo/Zhoushan (68.9 mln tonnes in 2021), Qingdao (48.3 mln t), Lanshan (45.7), Dalian (37.7), Zhanjiang (30.8), Dongjiakou (29.0), Quanzhou (24.3), Huizhou (26.7), Tianjin (19.9), Yantai (16.6), Cezi Island (14.3), Beilun (13.1), Caofeidian (12.5), Bayuquan (10.7), 10.6 Shuidong (10.6), Fangcheng (7.7), Yangpu (7.4). In terms of sources of the shipments, the majority of China’s oil imports arrivesfrom the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is the single largest exporter to China, accounting for 18.1% of volumes so far this year. In Jan-Nov 2022, China imported 71.0 mln tonnes of crude oil from Saudi Arabia, down -6.3% y-o-y. However, in the same period, imports from Iraq to China increased by +2.8% y-o-y to 46.0 mln t, and from the UAE by +18.5% y-o-y to 29.3 mln t. Volumes from Oman declined slightly by -0.5% y-o-y to 32.3 mln t, whilst from Kuwait up by +1.0% y-o-y to 26.9 mln t. From Russia volumes increased by +35.0% y-o-y to 38.9 mln tonnes. Nevertheless, Russia accounts for less than 10 percent of China’s overallseaborne crude oil imports. Imports from West Africa shrunk by -15.3% y-o-y in to 43.8 mln tonnes, and from the North Sea imports are down -57.7% y-o-y to 6.9 mln t”, Banchero Costa concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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