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China Takes Mantel as Largest African Sweet Crude Oil Importer

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China Takes Mantel as Largest African Sweet Crude Oil Importer

Strong US production is limiting the demand for crude oil imports into the United States. Crude oil imports from Africa, which has historically been one of the key regions which US refiners purchase light sweet crudes which are good for gasoline refining has dropped more than 90% during the last 4-years.

With U.S. crude production expected to increase by an additional 1 million barrels per day in 2014, and it is likely that U.S. imports of African crude oil will remain low compared to historic levels. U.S. crude oil imports averaged about 6.5 million barrels per day last week; according to the most recent estimate from the Department of Energy, down by 658,000 barrels per day from the previous week, and at a 17-year low. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports averaged 7.0 million barrels per day, 11.3% below the same four-week period last year.

African crude oil exports to the United States averaged 170,000 barrels per day for the first four months of 2014 as rapidly rising U.S. crude production has reduced U.S. refiner demand for imported light sweet crude oil. Historically, U.S. refiners have been major consumers of African crude oil, primarily light sweet crude from Nigeria, Algeria, and Angola, with the United States taking 2 million barrels per day, or about one-quarter, of African crude exports as recently as 2010.

African exports to other global regions reflect both changes in exports to the United States and the repeated and extended disruptions in Libyan production that have occurred since 2011. African crude that until recently flowed to the United States has been diverted to serve European markets. The biggest change has been imports into China. China imported more than 1.2 million barrels per day of crude oil from Africa during the first four months of 2014, 22% of total African crude oil exports, and is now the world´s largest importer of African crude oil.

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