Challenges for Chinese oil imports

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Crude is ripping higher into the weekend, as the ebb and flow of OPEC production cut expectations swing towards the bulls once more (the drop in Saudi export loadings this month are looking pretty tasty, it has to be said…). Stay strong, my friends, for the weekend awaits. In the meantime, hark, here are five things to consider in oil markets today.   

1) There have been more stories circulating about the Chinese oil market this week than we can shake a stick at…but we’ll have a go at highlighting some of the more interesting elements at play.

We talked earlier in the week about how Chinese domestic oil production is coming under pressure due to aging fields and lower capex. The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics peg production last month at 3.97 million barrels per day, up from a seven-year low made in September at 3.8mn bpd.

Despite indications from Chinese oil companies such as Cnooc that they are set to boost spending this year, the below rebound may still be a dead-cat bounce.

China output jan 2017.jpg

2) With Chinese domestic oil production under pressure, and as refinery runs have reached a record ahead of tighter fuel standards – up 3.7 percent last year to average 10.86mn bpd – imports have correspondingly been boosted to meet this extra demand, as well as to propel strategic stockpiles emphatically higher. 

Our ClipperData show that Chinese waterborne imports increased by