By Tsvetana Paraskova of OilPrice.com
The biggest crude oil buyers in Asia, China and India, imported lower volumes in April compared to multi-month highs in March, leaving overall Asian crude imports last month lower than in the prior month.
Total shipments to Asia averaged 26.39 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, down from 27.6 million bpd in March, per data from Refinitiv Oil Research cited by Reuters columnist Clyde Russell on Thursday.
China and India, Asia’s number-one and number-two crude importers, scaled back imports in April compared to March.
China – which had imported the highest crude volumes in nearly three years in March – saw arrivals in April at just 10.67 million bpd, significantly down compared to 12.37 million bpd imports in March, according to Refinitiv’s data.
India, for its part, is estimated to have imported 4.6 million bpd of crude in April, down from an eight-month high of 5.02 million bpd in March.
Russia continued to be the top crude oil supplier to both China and India, according to Refinitiv’s data, as the two big importers are snapping up cheaper Russian crude compared to international benchmarks.
Oil prices surged in the first two weeks of April after several major OPEC+ producers, led by the top producers in the Middle East, announced on April 2 a total of 1.16 million bpd of fresh production cuts between May and December this year.
Since the middle of April, oil prices have fallen to the lowest level so far this year amid heightened concerns about the Chinese recovery with an unexpected slowdown in manufacturing activity in April, as well as concerns about the U.S. banking sector and a looming recession after another interest rate hike from the Fed.
But pricier crude in early April and the rise in Middle Eastern official selling prices for May loadings could mean weaker imports in China and India in the coming weeks, which would also coincide with peak refinery maintenance season.