Thursday, December 31, 2009

Oil-thirsty China to raise Kuwaiti imports by 50pc

BEIJING: China has agreed to raise 2010 crude imports from Kuwait by 50 per cent to about 240,000 barrels per day, trade sources said, with Chinese refiners set to to process at record rates as demand rebounds strongly.

The jump, which follows a one-third increase this year, comes after Iraq said it will more than double exports to the world's second-largest oil consumer and Saudi Arabia agreed to a 12 per cent increase for 2010.

"The deals have been finalised," said a trade source. "It's a big increase."

"Sinopec has raised the volume quite sharply," said a second trade source.

The increases from Iraq and Kuwait, both of which supply mostly heavy, high-sulphur oil, are partly due to top exporter Saudi Aramco cutting back on similar grades Chinese oil refiners consider more economic to process, traders said.

But more importantly, it's the expected demand increase from China that has led to the supply growth.

Sinopec Corp, Asia's top refiner, has said it will raise crude throuhgput next year to 4.1 million bpd, 14 per cent above the rates recorded in the first three quarters of this year.

China's fuel demand is poised for an 8 per cent expansion in 2010, more than double this year's 3 per cent, Sinopec's president, Wang Tianpu, said last month, amid increasing signs of a strong economic recovery spurred by aggressive government spending.

The 240,000-bpd level would be about 6 per cent of China's current total crude imports of nearly 4 million bpd, and brings China closer to Kuwait's top buyers such as Japan and South Korea. - Reuters

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