China Could Cause The Slowest Growth in Oil Imports In Two Decades

Analysts tell Reuters that high oil prices and China’s crackdown against oil import quotas could lead to the world’s largest oil importer, China, experiencing the lowest crude oil import growth since 2001.

Analysts including Rystad Energy and Energy Aspects and Independent Commodity Intelligence Services, (ICIS), believe that China’s recent crackdown on import and tax practices by independent refiners and the substantially higher oil prices could lead to flat or slightly rising crude oils imports in 2021. According to Reuters, oil imports could increase by as much as 2 percent in 2021 compared with 2020. This would be the lowest rate of growth in the past two decades and a lot lower than the 9.7 percent average import growth rate between 2015 and 2015.

China increased pressure earlier in the year on independent refiners to eliminate illegal tax practices and close down outdated facilities to reduce overcapacity. The authorities are inspecting private refiners to ensure compliance with all laws and regulations regarding imports, later reporting, booking processing rates, taxes, and tax.

An aggressive clampdown on Chinese private refiners could have a significant impact on crude oil import rates for the world’s largest oil importer. This is considering that China’s independent refiners now account for about one-fifth the country’s crude oil imports.

China’s crude oil imports dropped to 9.77 million barrels per daily (bpd), in June 2021. According to Reuters customs data, they were at their lowest monthly level since January 2021, down 2 percent in May.

China imported 260.66 millions tons of crude oil in the first half of 2018, or 10.51 million barrels per day, according to Reuters estimates. This was a decrease of 3 percent compared to 2020’s first half.

Statistics data revealed that Chinese refiners produced a record 14.8 million barrels per day of crude oil in June. This is an increase of 3.9 percent over May’s run rates. The data showed that the average daily run rate for the first half was even higher at 15.13 millions barrels, up 10.7 percent compared to a year ago.

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