Multiple cargoes carrying US crude oil arrived in Chinese waters in June as independent refiners resumed North American oil purchases in recent trading cycles, but the ongoing port congestion has significantly delayed the feedstock deliveries to the refining complex, according to market information collected by S&P Global Platts.
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As of July 3, four cargoes of US crudes totaling 631,000 mt were waiting in a long queue to be discharged and had been there since early June.
As a result, not a single drop of US oil was delivered to the independent refining sector in June, S&P Global Platts data showed.
The US cargoes stranded in the waiting line include Alaskan North Slope crude totaling 369,000 mt purchased by Luqing Petrochemical, Zhejiang Petroleum & Chemical and trading company MME.
The rest was ZPC's 262,000 mt of light sweet WTI crude.
The independent sector spearheaded China's move to revive US crude purchases in 2020, taking the first US crude cargo in May after the country suspended North American feedstock purchases for five months.
In May, the independent sector imported a total of 345,000 mt of US crude, including medium sour Mars Blend and light sweet WTI Midland, in addition to ANS, Platts data showed. In comparison, China's US crude imports in May totaled 549,839 mt, according to China's official customs data.
Looking into July, more US cargoes are expected to arrive into Shandong market for independent refineries, sources said.
MORE NEW GRADES
Meanwhile, the sector took advantage of the low price to bring in more cheap new crudes for feedstock testing in June, information available to Platts showed.
In the last month, the independent refining sector has received a total of 56 crude grades, compared with an average of around 30-40 in previous months.
Those included new grades like Hibernia from Canada, DFC from Denmark, Kikeh from Malaysia, and Bonga from Nigeria, which arrived into Shandong market for the first time in June.
The cargo of 135,000 mt Hibernia has been imported by ChemChina from Canada.
An even more rare cargo of 100,000 mt of DFC was imported by Shenchi Petrochemical from Denmark, thanks to a negative EFS.
In addition to those rare cargoes, improving gasoline demand has also prompted independent refineries to make inquiries about condensate volumes.
Two cargoes of condensate have arrived last month, with 37,000 mt of DFC from Qatar, and 42,000 mt of NW Shelf from Australia.
In July, more rare grades were expected to arrive, with Chinese independent refiners now open to buying anything economically competitive in April.
Grades like the Guyana offshore crude, Liza, North Sea's Chestnut and Balder crude, and even Siberian Light crude, which usually does not leave the Mediterranean region, were fixed to be delivered into China in July, Platts reported earlier.
Top 10 crude suppliers for independent refineries ('000 mt)
Top 10 crude grades for independent refineries ('000 mt)
Source: S&P Global Platts data, company sources