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Oil Trade - October 06

Source: OPEC_RP061014 10/16/2006, Location: Europe

According to preliminary data, OECD crude oil imports continued their upward trend to hit their highest level so far this year, averaging 32.1 mb/d in September, which corresponds to around 100,000 b/d above the previous month and some 70,000 b/d higher than a year earlier. USA and Japan remained the main contributors to the growth. In contrast, product imports stayed almost stable at 11.1 mb/d, implying total OECD oil imports of nearly 43.3 mb/d, up 130,000 b/d from the previous month. For the period January-September, OECD crude oil imports averaged 31.7 mb/d compared to 31.5 mb/d for the same period of 2005 which represented growth of 200,000 b/d, while product imports increased 420,000 b/d to stand at 11.0 mb/d.

OECD oil exports remained almost unchanged at around 15.4 mb/d in September with 7.3 mb/d of crude oil and 8.1 mb/d of products. When compared to a year earlier, crude oil exports were 660,000 b/d down while products were 260,000 b/d higher in September 2006. As a result, OECD net oil imports stood at 27.9 mb/d, up 112,000 b/d from the previous month but almost 1.0 mb/d or 3% higher than a year earlier.

For deliveries, Saudi Arabia and FSU remained the main suppliers of OECD crude oil imports in September with around 16% each. Both sources saw their shares increase 3 percentage points from the September 2005 figures. Norway and Mexico were ranked third and fourth with 8% and 7.5% respectively.

Regarding products, no significant changes have been seen; nevertheless, it appears that Venezuela’s share in supplying OECD products has dropped from around 7% in September to about 4% this year, to be overtaken by the Netherlands and FSU as the largest suppliers of OECD product imports with 5% each.

Preliminary data show that US crude oil imports rose 200,000 b/d or around 2% to stand at 10.6 mb/d in September, a fifteen-month high as refineries continued to run above 90% of their capacity. In addition to high throughput from refineries, large stock-builds, which make stocks running above seasonal averages, contributed to the growth in US crude oil imports displayed in August and September. In contrast, product imports dropped by 220,000 b/d, essentially from gasoline following the end of the seasonal driving season as well as kerosene-jet fuel. Furthermore, high output from refineries and comfortable levels of product stocks, especially distillates, discouraged imports.

USA imported on average 10.2 mb/d of crude oil between January and September 2006, 77,000 b/d or less than 1% more than in 2005 and product imports averaged 3.5 mb/d, 250,000 b/d or 7.6% higher than the same period of the previous year.

Regarding exports, crude oil remained unchanged at 21,000 b/d and products increased 50,000 b/d to 1.2 mb/d. Consequently, US oil net imports edged down 68,000 b/d on a combination of a 200,000 b/d increase in crude oil net imports and a 269,000 b/d drop in products to settle below 13.0 mb/d. Despite this decline, total net oil imports remained 760,000 b/d or 6.2% higher than a year earlier.

Canada and Mexico with around 16% each remained the largest suppliers of US crude oil imports ahead of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela with 12% each. However, Saudi Arabia and Canada saw their share in US imports lose 4 percentage points from the previous month. When compared to a year earlier, Saudi Arabia’s share dropped 4 percentage points and Canada’s and Mexico’s shares lost 2 percentage points.

On the product side, Canada, the Virgin Islands and Algeria remained the largest suppliers with 15%. Algeria and the Virgin Islands saw their share increase by around 4 percentage points in September at the expense of Canada, Netherlands and Mexico.

Japan’s crude oil imports continued to recover from their significant total drop of 900,000 b/d experienced during May and June and they increased 122,000 b/d or 3% to average nearly 4.2 mb/d, the same level as in September 2005. In contrast, product imports remained stable at nearly 0.6 mb/d but they displayed a 300,000 b/d or 35% y-o-y growth.

For the first nine months of 2005, Japan’s total oil imports averaged 5.2 mb/d, 214,000 b/d below the same period last year. The decline was mainly attributable to the products which retreated by more than 150,000 b/d or 15%.

As product exports remained almost unchanged at 0.4 mb/d, Japan’s total net oil imports rose 122,000 b/d to average 4.3 mb/d with crude oil at 4.2 mb/d and products at 1.3 mb/d. When compared to a year earlier, Japans’ net oil imports were 550,000 b/d or 11% lower than a year ago. Crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia and UAE accounted for almost 60% of total Japanese crude oil imports in September.

China’s crude oil imports increased 278,000 b/d or 11% to average nearly 2.8 mb/d in August, reversing the downward trend displayed during the previous four months. When compared to a year earlier, China’s crude oil imports showed a significant growth of around 35% but it should be noted that China’s imports in August 2005 averaged less than 2.1 mb/d, the lowest monthly average in 2005. The surge in China’s crude oil imports was attributed to the combination of a steady demand and the beginning of filling up the strategic reserves, where according to secondary sources, at least 1.0 mb of crude oil were stored in August.

In contrast, product imports edged down 28,000 b/d to 1.1 mb/d, but remained 60,000 b/d higher from a year ago. Most of the decline in product imports concerned fuel oil which represents the largest imported product. Despite the decline of 2.5% from the previous month, fuel oil imports were 56% higher than a year earlier. However, jet kerosene imports saw a significant increase in August due to strong demand from the aviation sector.

China imported on average 2.9 mb/d of crude oil during the first eight months of 2006, which represents a growth of 15% compared to same period last year.

On the export side, China’ oil exports rose 113,000 b/d to average 0.5 mb/d with two-thirds crude oil and one-third products. As a result, China’s net oil imports averaged 3.3 mb/d in August, which corresponds to 138,000 b/d above the previous month, with crude oil net imports increasing 240,000 b/d, while product net imports lost 102,000 b/d. However, at 3.3 mb/d, China’s net oil imports were 930,000 b/d or 38% higher than a year earlier.

For the first time in the year, Saudi Arabia regained its position of main supplier of China’s crude oil imports with 19%, which corresponds to 0.53 mb/d compared to 0.35 mb/d in the previous month. Angola, which has been China’s largest supplier since February 2006, moved back to the second position with 13.5% followed by Iran (13.3%), Oman (11%) and Russia (10%). Compared to a year earlier, Saudi Arabia and Iran saw their shares in China’s crude oil imports surge 53% and 60%, respectively. China’s imports from Kazakhstan increased by 68% from a year earlier following the start-up of the Atasu-Alashankou pipeline linking Kazakhstan to China in July, making Kazakhstan the tenth largest supplier of China with 60,000 b/d in August.

India imported 2.1 mb/d in August, down 32,000 b/d from the previous month but 53,000 b/d more than a year earlier while product imports inched down a slight 7,000 b/d to 0.24 mb/d. For the January-August period, India’s crude oil imports averaged nearly 2.2 mb/d against 2.1 mb/d a year ago, whereas product imports moved down by 40,000 b/d to 0.26 mb/d. All together, crude oil and product imports showed a growth of less than 3% which was in line with the growth of demand for the period January-August this year.

With product exports averaging 0.43 mb/d, 22,000 b/d below the previous month and 77,000 b/d below August 2005 figures, India’s total net oil imports continued to hover around 2.0 mb/d since May 2006, 70,000 b/d higher than August 2005.

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