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Crude oil stockpiles in China rose by 29.09 million barrels last month from a month before and are likely to continue up, S&P Global Platts calculations have suggested. The inventory build was a result of rising imports combined with lower refinery activity, which led to the 416.7-percent surge in October from September.
On an annual basis, crude oil supply in October rose 21.3 percent to 415.96 million barrels, S&P Global Platts also said, noting the monthly increase in total supply was a lot more modest than the jump in inventories, at 8.9 percent, mostly as a result of higher imports.
China’s crude oil imports averaged 9.61 million barrels a day last month, customs data cited by Reuters revealed earlier this month, with the agency noting the amount is the highest on record. Once again, it was the independent refiners, or teapots, that drove the increase as they seek to fulfill their import quotas before they expire.
The total October volume of imports hit 40.80 million tons, of which teapots imported 8.22 million tons. Yet this was lower than the teapots’ intake as forecast by S&P Platts last month, which was 9 million tons. It was, however, substantially higher than the 7.26 million tons independent Chinese refiners imported in September.
At the same time, refinery throughputs also rose substantially in October, S&P Global Platts notes, citing official data. These hit 386.88 million barrels for the month, up 4.6 percent on October 2017.
Although the stockpile numbers seem impressive, for the first nine months of the year China’s oil stocks rose by a total 197 million barrels of crude, which was lower than the increase for the respective period of 2017: between January and October 2017, stockpiles of crude rose by as much as 266 million barrels.
Although China does not release official information about its crude oil inventories, it does release production and import data, which is used by data analysts and news providers to make plausible calculations of the inventory situation in one of the world’s top consumers of oil.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com