India eyes U.S. oil that China’s offering amid new tariffs

Dhwani Pandya September 06, 2019

MUMBAI (Bloomberg) - An Indian state-owned refiner is mulling the purchase of American oil from Chinese sellers offering cargoes that would be hit by new tariffs on U.S. supplies.

Bharat Petroleum Corp. is looking for opportunities to buy some U.S. crude diverted from their original destination of China, according to Refineries Director R. Ramachandran. He said the previously-reported purchase of up to two cargoes wasn’t finalized.

Beijing announced it would impose the 5% levies -- the first ever Chinese tariffs on U.S. oil -- on Aug. 23 and they took effect Sept. 1. Six tankers carrying about 12 MMbbl of U.S. crude were on the way to China at the time of the announcement. At least one of those vessels arrived before the deadline, while another ship may have offloaded its cargo at a port near Qingdao before the tariffs took effect.

Unipec -- the trading arm of China’s state-owned oil giant Sinopec -- offered U.S. crude that couldn’t arrive in the Asian country before Sept. 1 in late August. At least three potential Asian buyers received offers from Unipec, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Indian refiners are buying more U.S. oil

Indian refiners have increased their purchases of American oil this year as supplies from Iran and Venezuela were hit by White House sanctions. The Asian nation bought an average of 287,000 bbl of U.S. crude a month in this year through May, compared with a monthly average of 131,000 bbl in 2018, according to Energy Information Administration data.

China was the biggest foreign buyer of American crude as recently as the middle of last year but imports were subsequently slashed as the trade dispute worsened. Purchases picked up again this year, reaching 1.5 million tons in July, data from the General Administration of Customs show.

Ramachandran also said BPCL is looking to process U.S. West Texas Intermediate Light and Louisiana Light Sweet crude, two American grades that the Indian refiner has yet to purchase.

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