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Septemer US crude imports to China hit record high but purchase value lags target

November 02/2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The US became China's fourth biggest crude supplier in September in terms of volume, and inflows from the producer is expected to be ample in the fourth quarter as the Phase 1 trade deal between Beijing and Washington provides impetus to the flow of crude and energy products into China, according to S&P Global.

However, low crude oil prices will continue hindering Beijing's 2020 energy purchase targets and temper the impact of heightened flows, particularly when translated into value terms.

Crude oil is considered a key product to complete China's annual energy purchase commitments due to the commodity's typically higher value and volume compared with other energy products.

According to the Phase 1 trade deal struck in January, Beijing had committed to buy USD18.5 billion more of US energy products in 2020 than it bought in 2017, and USD33.9 billion more in 2021 over 2017 levels, with expectations of similar levels through 2025.

China's crude import volume in September surged 75.3% month on month to a record high of 3.9 million mt, or 952,254 b/d, showed data from the General Administration of Customs, or GAC, on Oct. 26.

The previous high was at 3.67 million mt, or 866,793 b/d in July, according to GAC data.

The import volume was within expectations as Sinopec took a majority of the arrivals while CNOOC, Zhejiang Petroleum & Chemical as well as independent refineries in Shandong also received shipments from the US, S&P Global Platts reported.

After a slight month-on-month contraction in October, China's crude imports from the US is likely to hit 908,000 b/d in November, data intelligence firm Kpler said on Oct. 26.

The September volume brought imports from the US at 10.92 million mt, or 292,236 b/d in January-September, more than double from 5.18 million mt in the same period of last year.

However, the value of the US crude imports in the first three quarters was merely USD3.32 billion, translating into an average CFR price of USD41.51/b with a conversion of 7.33 barrels/mt, according to GAC.

In comparison, China in 2017 imported about 153,000 b/d of US crude oil that was worth USD3.2 billion at an average price of about USD57.59/b, GAC data showed.

"Due to low crude price, it is unlikely to meet the trade deal, despite China increasing purchases and the monthly volumes keep hitting highs," a Beijing-based analyst said.

Crude imports from Saudi Arabia rebounded 48% from August at 7.78 million mt, or 1.9 million b/d, in September after a three-month-fall.

The strong recovery led to its return to the top spot in September.

Moreover, China also boosted crude imports from the Middle East, with shipments jumping 18.9% year on year at 5.16 million b/d in the first three quarters. The Middle East accounted for 46.3% of the market share compared with 43.8% in the same period last year.

In contrast to notable volume increases from the Middle East and North America, imports from Africa and South America fell 12.4% and 8% at 1.6 million b/d and 1.27 million b/d, respectively, in January-September, GAC data showed.

As MRC reported earlier, PetroChina has nearly doubled the amount of Russian crude being processed at its refinery in Dalian, the companys biggest, since January 2018, as a new supply agreement had come into effect. The Dalian Petrochemical Corp, located in the northeast port city of Dalian, was expected to process 13 million tonnes, or 260,000 bpd of Russian pipeline crude in 2018, up by about 85 to 90 percent from the previous years level. Dalian has the capacity to process about 410,000 bpd of crude. The increase follows an agreement worked out between the Russian and Chinese governments under which Russias top oil producer Rosneft was to supply 30 million tonnes of ESPO Blend crude to PetroChina in 2018, or about 600,000 bpd. That would have represented an increase of 50 percent over 2017 volumes.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing PE and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,594,510 tonnes in the first nine months of 2020, up by 1% year on year. Only high denstiy polyethylene (HDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 880,130 tonnes in the nine months of 2020 (calculated using the formula: production minus exports plus imports, exluding producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply increased exclusively of PP random copolymer.
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:Near East, PP, PE, crude and gaz condensate, PP random copolymer, propylene, HDPE, ethylene, petrochemistry, CNOOC, PetroChina, Zhejiang Petrochemical, Rosneft, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, USA.
Category:General News
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