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China’s crude storage nearly full

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China’s commercial and strategic oil storage is almost full, a Sinopec trading executive said on Wednesday, leaving little room for Asia’s top oil consumer to keep up its soaring import growth and adding downward pressure to an already oversupplied market.

China’s purchases to fill its strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) was one of the main drivers of Asian demand since August of last year, with the nation’s importers buying cheap crude to fill oil tanks despite slowing economic growth.

But with storage capacities approaching their limits, China’s crude imports will likely stay flat or rise only slightly this year, said the executive, who requested not to be named despite speaking to reporters at an industry event.

China’s crude oil imports grew 4.5 percent in the first two months of the year compared to the same period a year ago, according to official customs data. [O/CNTRADE]

But daily crude imports in February of 6.7 million barrels per day (bpd) were down nearly 7 percent from a record 7.15 million bpd in December, the data showed.

“We see a stop in stocking up of Chinese SPR as a drop in needed demand for oil markets,” said Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Singapore’s Phillip Futures. “Now that it has happened the markets are just factoring this in,” he said.

Other analysts said China’s current economic growth rate – at its slowest in 25 years at around 7 percent a year – would still be high enough to create Chinese oil demand.

“Demand will grow, and domestic production will be flat to declining,” said Simon Powell, head of Asia oil and gas research at CLSA in Hong Kong. “Imports are what meets that incremental demand in some ways.”

“I’m not convinced that every tank in China is full,” Powell also said, adding that China would continue to take advantage of low crude prices to import crude.

Brent crude dropped as much as 41 cents to $54.70 a barrel on Wednesday, although it had gained to $55.48 by 0918 GMT. The European benchmark is still down more than 50 percent from its 2014 peak in mid-June. [O/R]

New commercial storage is being added in China, but it is mostly privately funded and not available for use yet, said the Sinopec trading executive.

Storage companies in China are set to boost commercial oil tank capacity by more than a tenth this year. Additional tanks for holding SPR supplies are not expected to be available until later this year.

29 Comments on "China’s crude storage nearly full"

  1. rockman on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 8:46 am 

    Sometimes the statements in such reports

    “…leaving little room for Asia’s top oil consumer to keep up its soaring import growth and adding downward pressure to an already oversupplied market.”

    And yet: “China’s crude oil imports grew 4.5 percent in the first two months of the year compared to the same period a year ago…”.

    So China has little room to store more oil but is currently importing more then they were a year ago when prices were much higher. So buying more oil is putting downward pressure on prices???

  2. beammeup on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 9:28 am 

    Rock, the implication is that part of the reason for the increase was to fill the available storage capacity. Once that capacity has been filled – which the article implies is very imminent – then oil imports will no longer grow, or do so at a much lower rate, thereby failing to soak up increased oil supply, thereby putting pressure on prices. It might be the case that none of this turns out to occur, but at least you can see how oil prices might be adversely affected in the short term if it did.

  3. Plantagenet on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 10:48 am 

    More evidence the oil glut is a global phenomena. Oil prices are getting a bump up here with the KSA attack on Yemen, but the problem of oil over productoiin is still there.

  4. BobInget on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 11:07 am 

    China is a huge land mass. China’s population, almost a
    conversation piece.
    The US is growing about 2.5 %. Oil consumption increases about that yearly.
    (jet fuel growth stands at 7%)

    China is said to grow around 7% (doubles in 10 years) Judging by airline sales I’ll bet China’s jet fuel needs are growing faster then 7%.

    Somehow, our attention is always drawn to
    China, while Vietnam, Korea, India combined, a far, far larger market.In fact India’s population is experiencing alarming growth.

    NEW DELHI: Indian economy will grow by 7.4 per cent this fiscal, outpacing China to become the world’s fastest growing economy, after a revision in the method of calculations. Aided by a 7.5 per cent expansion during October- December, Asia’s third-largest economy will this fiscal see the fastest pace of growth since 2010-11 when it achieved 8.7 per cent, even as some doubts lingered on the revised methodology.

    A way to estimate the number of years it takes for a certain variable to double. The rule of 70 states that in order to estimate the number of years for a variable to double, take the number 70 and divide it by the growth rate of the variable. This rule is commonly used with an annual compound interest rate to quickly determine how long it would take to double your money.

    ‘RULE OF 70’
    Another useful application of the rule of 70 is in the area of estimating how long it would take a country’s real GDP to double. Similar to compound interest rates, one can use the GDP growth rate in the divisor of the rule. For example, if the growth rate of the China is 10%, the rule of 70 predicts it would take 7 years (70/10) for China’s real GDP to double.

  5. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 11:13 am 

    Bobby, give me a break with your rule of 70 growth and Asia. “It tain’t gonna happin”. Bobby will the rule of 70 work in the other direction? If so then I am in agreement.

  6. BobInget on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 11:20 am 

    RED SEA Choke Point

    When oil refinery or storage becomes insufficient, people, Chinese or Indian,
    build additional.

    In America we know better. Why build additional storage for ‘just-in-time deliveries’?

    US ‘storage’ is on the high seas;

    The Transfer of oil from one country to another is a very large task. Billions of barrels of oil a day are shipped in Oil Tankers to various destinations all over the world. There are many different shipping routes, but there are six major transit chokepoints” which deal with the most traffic of oil tankers and are areas of high risk for something to go wrong with the oil transfer. The Strait of Hormuz, The Strait of Malacca, The Suez Canal, Bab el-Mandab, The Turkish Straits, and The Panama Canal are different areas of the sea that connect large bodies of water and can sometimes create bottleneck situations.

    The Strait of Hormuz is an area where tankers from Persian Gulf nations (mainly the Middle East) travel through to get to their destinations in the United States, Japan, China, and Western Europe, connecting the Persian Gulf with the Gilf of Oman. About 40% of all Oil Tanker traffic passes through The Strait of Hormuz because (as seen on the graph below) the Middle East is the leader of oil production, thus making them the lead exporter of oil. The Strait of Malacca is a smaller area of passage than most chokepoints, but it is one of the most unsafe passages of any transport route in the world. It is the target of many terrorist attacks because of its bottleneck design in the Singapore Strait. The area of passage is located in between the island of Malaysia and Indonesia because it is the shortest route to get Oil into Japan, China, and other Asian countries. The Suez Canal in Egypt connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, only allowing smaller tankers to pass through, transporting Oil mainly to Europe, but also to the Unites States. The Oil comes from some revenues in Asia but mainly from Saudi Arabia, again, making this chokepoint an export region for the Middle East. Bab-el Mandab is a chokepoint between the Red Sea and The Gulf of Aden which begins the only transportation route that transports Persian Gulf Oil exclusively. Many of the times, the oil the Persian Gulf and Middle Eastern countries export gets sifted in with other country’s oil, which makes the Bab el-Mandab unique. The oil from this area travels directly to Europe and the Unites States. Both Bosporus and Dardanelles are canals that make up The Turkish Straits and basically divide Asian countries on the Black Sea from European countries that end the Mediterranean Sea. Oil that is being transported out of Russia and other regions of the Black Sea first encounter the Bosporus which is a small canal leading into a sort of mini-sea, which then leads to the Dardanelles canal which carries the Tankers out into the Mediterranean sea. These tankers end up in Europe, providing them with much of their oil. The sixth Chokepoint is The Panama Canal that takes Oil generated in the United States to other areas of the United States and to Latin American countries. All of these transportation routes are listed in order from most barrels transported per day to the least. The Strait of Hornez transports the most with about 16.5 billion barrels per day, while The Panama Canal only transfers about ½ a million.

  7. GregT on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 11:29 am 

    The Chinese are buying everything in the greater Vancouver area that they can get their hands on. The big news story yesterday was that the average price of a house in Vancouver will be over 2 million dollars by 2030. Home ownership is already out of the reach of the average Canadian citizen.

    In other news, politicians are urging store owners to include English on their signage.

    “Vancouver being transformed by new wave of brash, rich Asians looking for safe place to ‘park their cash’”

  8. BobInget on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 11:55 am 

    Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending March 20, 2015
    U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged over 15.5 million barrels per day during the week
    ending March 20, 2015, 94,000 barrels per day more than the previous week’s average.

    Refineries operated at 89.0% of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production
    decreased last week, averaging over 9.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production
    decreased slightly last week, averaging over 4.7 million barrels per day.

    U.S. crude oil imports averaged 7.4 million barrels per day last week, down by 104,000
    barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports
    averaged about 7.3 million barrels per day, 1.0% below the same four-week period last

    Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline
    blending components) last week averaged 443,000 barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports
    averaged 348,000 barrels per day last week.

    U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum
    Reserve) increased by 8.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 466.7 million
    barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are at the highest level for this time of year in at least
    the last 80 years. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 2.0 million barrels last
    week, but are well above the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline
    inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel
    inventories were unchanged last week and are in the lower half of the average range for
    this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories rose 0.7 million barrels last week and are
    well above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories
    increased by 10.6 million barrels last week.

    Total products supplied over the last four-week period averaged over 19.1 million barrels
    per day, up by 2.9% from the same period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor
    gasoline product supplied averaged about 8.8 million barrels per day, up by 0.4% from
    the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied averaged 3.9 million barrels per
    day over the last four weeks, up by 4.5% from the same period last year. Jet fuel product
    supplied is up 7.7% compared to the same four-week period last yea

  9. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 12:54 pm 

    Yea Greg, the Chinese with money are bailing out of China. That is the best form of expression doing the walk not just talking about it. It is obvious the Chinese rich have lost confidence in China and the safety of their fortunes and their families. This wealth concern in addition to worries over pollution and health are driving the Chinese with means out of China. IOW there is a very large capital flight out of China.

  10. Perk Earl on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 12:58 pm 

    Guess we’ll see once China’s oil storage is filled up, has on price.

    It just gets a little more interesting all the time.

  11. rockman on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 2:50 pm 

    Earl – I was going to respond to beamer’s same point: if China’s oil storage is completely filled and they are still importing more oil now then they were a year (as they are today) exactly how are they responsible for the lower oil price? If they are then how much more responsible are the countries that are importing less oil today then a year ago?

    IOW China is importing more oil today then when they had very little oil going to storage. But we don’t have to speculate on future: “Chinese imports and prices: State-owned CNPC saw the nation’s oil demand rising to 10.68 million bopd in 2015, some 310,000 bopd higher than last year. The forecast, in an annual report released by CNPC’s research institute on Wednesday, also put the country’s net crude imports up 5.4 percent at 6.49 million bopd for this year.”

    So China is currently importing 300k bo more during the time when oil prices plunged. Instead of forecasting China’s storage situation as a cause for lower oil prices it should be given credit for not letting oil prices fall further then they have IMHO.

    Again, IMHO, this is the same as the bullsh*t hype about US oil storage being nearly full (which isn’t even close to) and projecting that growing inventory as part of the cause for the price collapse.

  12. GregT on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 3:20 pm 


    It is estimated that as many as 50% of the real estate in Vancouver is sitting empty. It is a speculative market. There are many Chinese students attending University here, living in multi million dollar homes, driving hundred thousand dollar plus vehicles. When they have completed their educations they have been going back to China.

    The money pouring into the region is insane, but it has been very good for the local economy. The building boom here right now is unprecedented. I’m glad to be getting out.

  13. shallow sand on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 3:30 pm 

    Since the world is awash in crude (per MSM) the price will continue to be low, CAPEX will continue to be cut.

    Either world wide demand will fall, and the market will be well supplied, or demand will rise and there will be another 2008 style price shock.

    The longer the price is low, the more personnel in the oil patch will be fired, the more rigs will be cut up and sold and the more marginal wells will be plugged. If world wide demand falls, none of this will be a big deal. If world wide demand does not fall, the longer the price is low, the higher the price will rocket, until supply and demand pass each other again.

    However, as oil becomes more and more difficult to extract in substantial quantities, the higher the highs and the higher the lows, provided demand continues its slow but steady rise year on year.

    And whichever way the wind is blowing, be it higher or lower, the MSM will pile on and the dumb money will follow, only to get whipsawed when the meme changes.

  14. steve on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 3:37 pm 

    The whole of Asia is in a lot of trouble!! I would not want to be in the Philippines like Makati when the big giant gets very hungry…the water has been raped of fish and fisheries and the land and water has been poisoned… I don’t think the U.S will be able to step in when China decides to take over all of Asia…

  15. Nony on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 4:48 pm 

    There is no danger of “running out of storage” since prices for storage will just increase. The oil won’t run down the streets.

    Storage in Cushing has gone from a dime per barrel (per month), to a dollar. So, from an economic standpoint, we’re already out of storage (at anything close to a “normal” price).

    Pressure for storage at mid/downstream facilities is intense. Nobody will build a new tank for a market condition that will close in a few months. But they will defer maintenance shutdowns (API 653) or try to rush repairs (very annoying ;)). And financially, they are very interestingly doing the opposite of normal practice at refineries. Instead of trying to operate at low levels (low working capital tied up), they try to operate at high levels.

    But the bottom line is the storage thing is OVERPLAYED. WTI is in contango because of US overproduction and the export ban. That will get unwound in a few months when more Bakken production slows down, more stripper wells get capped. Storage is reacting to the contango, not causing it. You don’t need to track storage levels like it is some danger indicator. You just need a good sweating of the oil producers. Give them time…the upstream is down and the downstream is up (jobs wise).

    Segue…all the crap about “camel piss” for light sweet crude is silly. See cargos of 47 API Eagle Ford bought with no regrets. It’s very easy to process, very low sulfur, not hard on the preheater/distillate tower. And you can get a LOT of middle distillate products from it.

    Decent diesel output also (just adjust your downstream units a bit). It’s not an unlimited adjustment, but the wole Jeff Brown charts showing barrel splits miss the ability of refineries to operate…they act as if the refinery was just a splitter, not a complicated linear program of different units with different capacities (and the entire site is never all at 100%…you decide which units to optimize).

    And EF mixes great with a medium sour (its not even a “dumbbell” like condensate-bitumen) And it still (despite the trade restrictions) costs more than a medium sour like Basra. Which should tell you which is worth more. And if you try to buy competitive high 40s product (Tapis or Arab superlight) that is not affected by trade restrictions, forget it. That Shi’ite has a spread HIGHER than WTI. So the free market is telling you that stuff is not camel piss.

    This whole energy content crap is just asinine. So…is bitumin more valuable than WTI? Pet-coke supposed to be more valuable than jet because it has higher energy content? It’s the diametrical opposite of what the peakers were saying 10 years ago…you will only find heavy sour crappy stuff. No more WTI. What a joke that was!

  16. Nony on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 4:49 pm 

    P.s. I know this article is about China storage. (different dynamics, Brent futures curve, not WTI affects).

  17. Nony on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 5:05 pm 

    [For clarity, in case anyone catches it. Tapis or Arab Superlight (e.g. 47-50 API) has a higher price than Brent. So both world free market traded prices. (WTI and Brent are almost identical API; the spread against WTI would be even MORE…but that is because of the export ban.)

  18. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 5:24 pm 

    Damit, NOo, I told Marmi the other day you packed your bags and left because you got so frustrated with all the bad news and here you are back. I guess I will have to eat worms!

  19. Nony on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 5:29 pm 

    You should be giving me a hard time for breaking my NYR.


  20. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 6:02 pm 

    NOo, you broke your NYR a month ago and I called you on it but anyway welcome back. Your fellow corn Marmi had the weight of the world on his shoulders since your departure desperately fighting the doomers with Freddy fluff charts. In case you don’t know Freddy that is the STL Fed charts. You guys need to join forces to defend BAUtopianism and Econ 101. Both are looking ragged these days and need cheerleaders.

  21. Makati1 on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 6:23 pm 

    steve, I don’t live in a 3rd world, banana republic, police state like you do in the UFSA. Democracy still exists here in obvious form. The people still go to the streets and force reform.

    I am not afraid of China as they (by marriage to Filipinos long ago) already own a lot of the big corporations here. They are buying farms all over the world, but not in the Ps. As for water, that is over hyped. Their water problems are not as bad as the Ministry of Propaganda …er… Truth says. The US water supply is no better and is all polluted and undrinkable without treatment, with few exceptions.

    Don’t you realize that China is the real threat to the USD? And Russia has all those resources the Empire craves for it’s own? And Iran has all that oil not supplying profits to American corporations? Ditto for Venezuelan oil.

    Washington does not allow any positive news to leak out to the sheeple about any of those counries. They do sponsor blatant lies about them though and the rest of the world can now see behind the curtain. Someday soon, even the US internet will be closely regulated/censored by the ‘security’ army(Gestapo) in the UFSA.

    No, I think I am in a good place to watch the capitalist system collapse, and, maybe the coming world war. We shall see.

  22. shortonoil on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 6:51 pm 

    The BOC has printed more money than the rest of the industrial world’s central banks combined. That resulted in huge speculation in Chinese real estate, stocks, and commodities. Australia has been one of China’s main suppliers of iron ore, coal, and other minerals. Rio Tinto, and BHP are now closing mines across the continent because of the fall in Chinese demand. With electricity usage in China now down 8% over 2013, and reports of the largest steel manufacture in the world now facing bankruptcy, China’s oil usage soon must follow.

    The Chinese economy is facing the same maximum affordability issue for petroleum that rest of the world is facing. It is not except from thermodynamics, and the effects of depletion. This will result in forward Chinese demand for petroleum falling. China will not save the world’s petroleum producers. Affordability will continue to fall as production cost continue to rise. There is no fairy god mother coming to save oil from its inevitable fate. The filling of the Chinese SPR will only be one more event contributing to it.

  23. Perk Earl on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 7:13 pm 

    “Again, IMHO, this is the same as the bullsh*t hype about US oil storage being nearly full (which isn’t even close to) and projecting that growing inventory as part of the cause for the price collapse.”

    I understand your position, Rockman.

    I’m not asserting full storage yet, either in the US or China, just that some articles indicate it is headed that direction (true or not). So I’m also not asserting it’s part of what dropped oil price so low.

    However, if storage in China and the US fill up or are perceived to be close to filling up, price will drop some more. But whether that actually happens or not is unknown, so we’ll have to wait to find out.

    Conversely, regarding oil price, it is now going back up some due in part to the dollar dropping relative to other currencies and that happened because the Fed blinked on raising rates, putting that off to later, or who knows, maybe even much later. Now there’s speculation rates may rise towards the end of 2015. That’s a long way off in a fast moving world.

    We’ll see on oil storage and it’s possible filling up and effect on price. We both have taken opposite sides on this particular topic, so let’s just note that and see what happens later. Don’t worry, I’ll remember and acknowledge either way it goes.

  24. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 7:21 pm 

    Oh Mak, you sound just like Baghdad Bob with your propagandist slogans. I love when your feathers get ruffled.

    Listen to short on China. He nailed it with some reality of the real Asian situation.

  25. Makati1 on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 10:08 pm 

    Davy, short has no more info than you do unless he lives in China, or at least it’s neighbors. No feathers to ruffle here. Just facts and observations. Your rants are getting more and more off the charts. That flag waving must be tiresome. Go plant some onions or peas or…

    As for any river that flows through a city, would you drink water from the one that flows through Newark or Atlanta or St. Louis or Boston or…? People who live in glass houses…

  26. Davy on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 6:26 am 

    OOO the Makster is telling Short he does not know what he is talking about. Makster I think I will listen to Short because he is not consumed with a one sided Asian agenda. He is one of the most balanced of the geopolitical commenters here. You on the other hand are clearly promoting Asia and attempting to discount any Asian negative. You are clearly anti-American and make every comment anti-American. I on the other hand address US negatives constantly. I only give you counter negatives for Asia to balance your one-sided critiques of the US and the west.

    Short made a point I am staying with: “electricity usage in China now down 8% over 2013, and reports of the largest steel manufacture in the world now facing bankruptcy, China’s oil usage soon must follow”. China growth is clearly stagnating and that is very dangerous with a country with such a large population and so many mal-investments. Mal-investments are a nice way of saying bad debt.

    China developed and built out a vast infrastructure that will never be repaid. It is the largest mal-investment of resources the world has ever seen and in a very short time. The only thing that can compare is the US suburban sprawl which built out of 3 decades. This Chinese build out and growth in the last 15 years was too fast without sound planning and management. It was a cancerous growth and based upon an unsustainable export driven model which is dying as BAU descends.

  27. beammeup on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 9:10 am 

    Rock – The article is not claiming that China’s storage IS filled; it’s claiming that China’s storage WILL SOON be filled. Whether that turns out to be true or not is unknown, but the article implies that China’s rate of growth in oil consumption will drop AFTER storage becomes full, an event which has not yet happened. Those projections for Chinese oil consumption throughout 2015 are just that – projections. Only time will tell what reality holds.

  28. shortonoil on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 9:35 am 

    “Davy, short has no more info than you do unless he lives in China, or at least it’s neighbors.”

    Not quit true. I live in eastern Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay. It is a prime retirement area for the DC area. My neighbors are retired generals, ex CIA employees, and Washington lobbyists. Little communities like Irvington are centers of wealth and presage, and they are scattered all around the Bay. The local YMCA is more of a country club than your usual iron pumping, sweat reeking inter city jock joint. As I quipped to a fellow member the other day the parking would be complete if someone would buy a Maserati. It is filled with Porsche, Mercenaries, Volvo, and of course Prius.

    In recent years Asians have been coming into this area by the droves, and many of them are Chinese. They are not your ordinary Chinese citizen. They are western educated, all speak perfect English, and they are all very wealthy. I play racket ball, and pickle ball with them, meet them out at dinner, and other community functions like concerts and plays. They are very good neighbors, very courteous, and well mannered. In typical Chinese fashion they take immaculate care of their properties. Many of the Chinese gardens to found in the area are delightful.

    When I ask them why they decided to leave China, I pretty much get the same response from all of them. They made their fortunes in China, and know that the end game is near. They have come to the United States, while they could get their money out, and before the Chinese economy fails. They fear that when that happens the communist authorities will revert to confiscation and repression. They all know that China was a one shot miracle that can not be sustained. They are seeking safety and peace, and seem to believe that neither will long be available in China.

    Americans seem to have a very distorted view of China, and its people. The ones that I know are intelligent, hard working, dedicated to their families, and pursuit to the same things most everyone else seeks. Perhaps we have a tendency to judge nations by their leadership rather than by its people. If the world was ruled by leaders who were like their people, the world would be a much nicer place to be in.

  29. Apneaman on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 10:42 am 

    Irvington, Virgina. That’s ground zero for sea level rise. Don’t wait too long to get out short.

    Forecasting Sea Level Rise for Maryland

    A blogger I respect and follow (Robert Scribbler) is from that region. This is what he said about the video.

    / March 23, 2015

    “My family mostly all live in this region. You could draw a box from Baltimore to Kitty Hawk and capture them all in mostly low lying areas.

    The constant effects of just 3 feet of SLR would be extraordinary. NOAA’s 6 foot projection by end Century pretty much removes half the coastal communities in this region. And God forbid we get something as nasty as Sandy in the Chesapeake Bay.”

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