China buys crude oil as prices collapse

file photo by EPA-EFE/LARRY W. SMITH

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China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, is building up stockpiles of crude oil as global prices plunge due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Imports rose 4.5% in March over a year earlier even as the world’s second-largest economy shut down to fight the virus and demand collapsed. For the first quarter of the year imports were up 5%.

The price collapse is battering state-owned oil producers and possibly disrupting official plans to develop the industry but is a boon to Chinese drivers and factories. It gives Beijing a chance to add to a strategic petroleum reserve that is meant to insulate the country against possible supply disruptions.

As global prices fell, Chinese importers sent 84 tankers to Saudi Arabia in mid-March, each able to carry 2 million barrels of crude, according to news reports that cited the China Shipbuilding Industry Association.

Low oil prices “have a positive impact on China,” said the ruling Communist Party’s Political and Legal Commission on its social media account.

Read more via AP

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