Which Nation Just Became The World’s Top Crude Importer?

I was writing this weekend about the importance of Asia in world resource markets. And yesterday we got another critical data point showing this is the center of the universe when it comes to metals and energy.

The item in question: a new report showing that China just became the world’s top oil importer.

According to the Financial Times, Chinese trade data revealed that crude imports jumped 13% in April. Hitting a total of 3.029 million metric tonnes — or about 222 million barrels.

That now puts China’s consumption ahead of the U.S. With Chinese imports running around 7.4 million barrels per day, as compared to about 7.1 million barrels daily for American imports.

The big monthly rise in China’s imports is notable. With a 13% increase being a signal that Chinese demand is continuing to expand rapidly, despite years of double-digit growth.

In fact, China appears to have been accelerating its efforts lately to find new crude supplies. Having completed import deals with nations like Russia and Myanmar.

All of which suggests that this is going to be the world’s go-to energy market for the foreseeable future. Meaning that project developers will be increasingly looking at logistics for shipping crude to this part of the world.

I wrote Saturday about such considerations with regards to new projects in South America. In short, Pacific shipping lanes are going to be a major advantage for new projects — both when it comes to selling product, and even in terms of obtaining project financing from energy-minded Asian consumers.

That’s going to be good for emerging projects in places like Chile and Peru. And the rise of China as an oil consumer could benefit projects in places like East Africa — which now have good access to Chinese markets via the recently-commissioned import pipeline through Myanmar.

Watch for China-financed deals being done in these locations — and beyond.

Here’s to a new number one,

Dave Forest

dforest@piercepoints.com / @piercepoints / Facebook

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