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China's June crude imports at independent refineries dip amid congestion

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Crude import volume in July remains heavy

Singapore — Chinese independent refineries' June crude imports edged down 0.5% to 4.4 million b/d, or 18 million mt, in June from the record high of 4.42 million b/d in May as Zhejiang Petroleum & Chemical could only manage to take in half of its feedstock tanker arrivals due to port congestion.

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ZPC received about 2.85 million mt of crude arrivals in June, according to market information collected by S&P Global Platts on July 3.

However, the 20 million mt/year refinery only managed to take in 1.35 million mt of crude in the month due to congestion problems at Zhoushan port in eastern China's Zhejiang province, according to refinery and port sources. Its imports were at 2.17 million mt in May.

A number of Sinopec refineries in the region and crude barrels delivered to storage facilities in Zhoushan designed by Shanghai International Energy Exchange also use that port.

Many Chinese companies bought crude when prices were low, causing port congestion issues in the country for more than a month.

The volume of crude on tankers idled in Chinese waters for 15 or more days has been consistently setting fresh highs, hitting 42.98 million barrels in the week beginning June 29, data from trade flow and inventory tracker Kpler showed.

Meanwhile, the other leading independent refiner Hengli Petrochemical (Dalian) received 2.28 million mt in June, slumping from 3.35 million mt in May, as the refinery cut its buying with the expectation of crude prices rising, a company source said.

Imports to small-scale refiners up

However, the reduction was capped as the volume of crude oil discharged for the rest of the small-scale independent refineries, including those under the non-major ChemChina, surged 9.1% to 14.39 million mt from the previous record high of 12.95 million mt in May, Platts data showed.

This was because the ports in Shandong, where most of the independent refineries are located, have maximized their capacity to discharge crude cargoes to ease congestion problems.

Chambroad Petrochemical lead the growth in the volume among its Shandong peers to receive 885,000 mt in eight crude cargoes last month from 100,000 mt in May.

But there were still about 67 crude cargoes waiting for discharge at Shandong's crude ports -- Qingdao, Dongjiakou, Rizhao, Yantai, Longkou, Laizhou and Dongying -- as of July 3, according to Kpler.

It also suggests that crude import volume in July is likely to remain heavy.

Platts in June collected information on crude arrivals for 38 independent and non-major refineries. These refineries import crude through ports in Shandong province, as well as Tianjin, Zhoushan and Dalian.

The barrels include those imported directly by the refiners and bought by trading companies on behalf of the independent refiners, and those that were discharged into the tanks.

These refiners were awarded a total of 129.01 million mt of import quotas in the first two batches, accounting for 84.5% of the county's total allocations for qualified refineries.

Crude imports for independent refineries ('000 mt)

Buyer
Jun-20
Jan-Jun 2020
Grades
Hengli
2,280
13,478
Arab Medium/Basrah Light/Kirkuk
ZPC
1,352
9,237
Al Shaheen/Arab Heavy/Buzios/Kuwait/Murban/Oman/Upper Zakum
ChemChina
1,284
7,305
ESPO/Hibernia/Mandji/Nemina/Pazflor/Rabi Light/Varandey
Chambroad
885
2,978
Basrah Heavy/Bitumen/Buzios/Castilla/Cold Lake/Iracema/Lula
Dongming
720
5,698
Dalia/Iracema/Lula/Olombendo
PetroChina*
661
1,454
Cabinda/Kissanje/Lula/Plutonio/Sapinhoa
Luqing
592
3,397
Clov/Crude/Djeno/Girassol/Urals
Jincheng
567
2,000
Grane Blend/Johan Sverdrup
Taifeng Hairun*
544
2,278
Indo Blend/Oman
Hualian
536
1,977
ESPO/Girassol/Lula/Napo
BP*
526
1,252
Basrah Heavy/Kikeh/Kimanis/Upper Zakum
Wonfull
521
2,283
Azeri/Cold Lake/Oman/Urals
Mercuria*
514
514
Lula/Oguendjo/Urals
Qirun
427
3,475
Kirkuk/Urals
Sinochem*
397
397
Basrah Light/Nemba
Qingdao Port*
373
373
Basrah Heavy/Dalia/Lula
Hualong
366
1,267
Ceiba/ESPO/Johan Sverdrup
Trafigura*
360
460
Dalia/Djeno/ESPO
Lijin
342
1,042
Condensate/ESPO
Yatong
335
977
Bonga/ESPO/KBT/Murban
Xintai
333
1,005
Doba/ESPO/Urals
Hongrun
330
3,989
Azeri/Dalia/Urals/TBA/ESPO/Sokol
Xinchi
295
295
Bitumen/Mal Blend/Murban
Fengli
270
670
Buzios/Urals
Hebei Xinhai
270
2,253
Indo Blend/Singma/Urals
Yuhuang
270
788
Gindungo/Mostarda
Haike
235
1,635
ESPO/Lula
Zhonghai Fine
235
805
Clov/ESPO
Chengda
159
1,284
Djeno/Mondo
Yulong*
149
289
Mal Blend
Qicheng
140
875
Johan Sverdrup
Jiangsu Xinhai
139
809
Azeri
Shenchi
137
927
DFC/DUC
Hengyuan
136
1,037
Lula
Kenli
130
1,200
Clov
Xinyue
125
606
Lula
Gaida*
100
300
ESPO
Shengxing
100
412
Oman
Ruimaotong*
100
100
Bitumen
Runcheng*
100
100
Singma
Qingdao Maofa*
100
300
ESPO
MME*
100
824
Mal Blend
Tairun Meifan*
96
96
Crude
Longyu*
90
90
Mal Blend
Total^
18,021
87,549

*Trading companies' imports for independent refineries

^ Includes other imports for independent refineries

Source: S&P Global Platts data, company sources