Oil prices rallied as markets reacted positively to strong Chinese import and export data. Specifically on oil, preliminary data published by China’s General Administration of Customs has crude oil imports for December at 23.67mmte or 5.5mmb/d (-0.1mmb/d MoM). That would make it the third highest monthly crude import on available records in tonnes (sixth highest in terms of barrels per day). It is also significantly higher than the 4.3mmb/d of crude imports for August which helped stoke fears of a hard landing for the world’s second largest economy.
The data implies total crude imports for 2012 of 271.1mmte, or 5.4mmb/d, up 0.4mmb/d (+6.5%) on 2011. China’s implied demand for oil in December was flat MoM at 10.1mmb/d under the crude-side methodology, which is calculated as domestic production plus net crude and product imports. That assumes November’s domestic crude production of 4.2mmb/d was maintained in December. That would also imply average demand in 2012 of 9.7mmb/d, up 0.4mmb/d (+4.3%) on 2011, which compares well with the YoY growth in demand forecast by the IEA, EIA and OPEC in their latest monthly reports.
Implied demand for oil could reach 10.1mmb/d in 2013, based on the demand in the last quarter of 2012, giving YoY growth of 0.4mmb/d, broadly in line with current forecasts.