Thursday, January 28, 2010

China Sees Oil at $80 a Barrel (WSJ)

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, NDRC, China's macroeconomic planning body, predicts that international oil prices "will average $80 a barrel this year—about 25% higher than last year—reinforcing analysts' expectations that Chinese demand will continue to help push prices up despite concerns that recent credit-tightening moves could crimp its appetite for fuel." Full story here.

Notable quotes:
  • International Energy Agency forecasts China's oil demand for the year will average 8.82 million barrels a day, an increase of 4.3% from last year's 8.46 million barrels a day. Chinese oil demand surged 7.2% higher from 2008 as the government's giant stimulus package revived construction and car sales.
  • Figuring out China's situation is difficult because of a lack of transparency. There is no reliable data available on how much oil is going into government or company inventory stockpiles.
  • Typically, Chinese demand surges ahead of major holidays, such as the Chinese Lunar New Year that starts in mid-February this year, when tourism spikes, or when Chinese buyers think the government is about to raise prices. Then, in following months, demand may fall as the stockpiles are used up before companies go back to buying again.
  • In past months, analysts pointed out a strange trend that gasoline demand wasn't growing nearly as fast as other oil products. That could be partly explained by Chinese buying cars with smaller engines and using them less.
  • China's rising demand for crude also reflects new oil refineries starting up. Much of their product is exported, where it can be sold for a higher price than in the domestic market. For the first time in more than a decade, China was a net fuel exporter, according to energy analyst Paul Ting.

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