China’s biggest oil suppliers are the Middle East, Russia and West Africa but the United States has also become an important global supplier since it opened up its market for exports in 2016.
Chinese oil importers are however currently shying away from buying US crude as they fear Beijing might soon exclude the commodity from its tariff list in a trade dispute between the two countries. Not a single tanker has loaded crude oil from the United States bound for China since the start of August, compared with about 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) in June and July.
Current loading programmes for Nigeria’s largest streams show an overhang of some 30 cargoes persisted from an originally planned 59 cargoes. This Nigerian crude overhang could possibly replace US oil.
As the face-off with US intensifies, China has been turning to the Middle East, West Africa and Latin America, according to shipping data and traders but how much of that extra demand is coming to Nigeria cannot be determined at this point. Last year, China imported an average of 1.48 million barrels a day from West Africa mainly from Angola and Nigeria.