China appears to be buying more US crude oil, likely in an attempt to get closer to the energy import quotas agreed with the Administration of President Donald Trump last year, according to an analysis by IHS Markit.
Current prices also support this, as Chinese refiners have reason to consider more flows from US barrels. So far in September, more than 700,000 b/d have been shipped from US ports to China, and it is estimated that volumes could even exceed 800,000 b/d by the end of the month.
Crude oil production in the United States fell dramatically during the first half of 2020.
The recovery of the country’s oil industry is highly dependent on stronger oil prices, but market signals suggest that it will take longer for this to happen.
Exports fell from their all-time high of 3.7 million b/d in February to much lower levels during June, when the country only exported 2.75 million b/d of crude.
US maritime crude exports increased in July to more than 2.9 million b/d, but have fallen since then, having remained below 2.8 million b/d so far in September.
Recent disruptions due to weather conditions have kept nearly a million b/d refining capacity offline in Louisiana since late August.
Concerns about weaker demand due to Tropical Storm Beta have also driven down gasoline prices in the United States.
Also, according to IHS Markit, market fundamentals have turned more negative for gasoline demand due to more remote work, schools remaining closed, and a possible spike in Covid-19 cases in the fall.