A number of African countries, including Angola and South Sudan, are fast becoming preferred exporters of crude oil to Asian countries, especially China. Before now, Nigeria was a dominant exporter of oil to this market.
Weakness in global oil benchmark Brent has prompted China to buy more crude from Africa, and the country’s imports from Africa are expected to jump to 6.51 million tonnes (47.5 million barrels) in July, up about 41 per cent from June, according to data recently compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts.
The bulk of the increase will come from Angola, which is now China’s top supplier in Africa. Angola is expected to ship 3.4 million tonnes in July, up from 2.88 million in June.
South Sudan, with eight vessels exported to China in July for a total 767,000 tonnes, it is said to have received an increase of eight per cent from June.
For the Angolans, the large boost in July exports to China will be a welcome change, as they lost their number two spot behind Saudi Arabia in the first six months of 2015 to Russia, according to Chinese customs data.
Imports from Russia were 19.401 million tonnes, a leap of 26.6 percent, while Saudi Arabia boosted shipments to 26.386 million tonnes, a gain of 9.2 per cent.
In March 2015, India, which recently replaced the United States as Nigeria’s biggest oil market, cut its import of the country’s crude by 38 per cent in December, while China did not import a barrel from the country in the period, data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for the period revealed.
India’s import of Nigerian crude tumbled to 5.2 million barrels in December, from 13.7 million in October and 12.4 million in November 2014.
China, which bought 1.9 million barrels of Nigerian crude in October, reduced its import from the country by 50.3 per cent to 946,913 barrels in November.
With the decline in imports from India and China, the share of the Asian region in Nigeria’s crude oil export dropped to 20 per cent in December from 30 per cent in October and 27 per cent in November 2014.
The Asian region, which is the major target market for many oil exporters, is a key market for Nigeria.
“Four regions namely Europe, Asia and Far East, South America and Africa remain the major destinations of Nigerian crude and condensate export,” the NNPC had said.
China is the second largest consumer of crude oil in the world.