(Adds analyst comment; background of new storage bases)
BEIJING, April 28 China added 9.34 million
barrels of crude oil to Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR),
worth just over one day's imports, during the first half of
2016, government data showed on Friday, cementing an analyst
view that a few tankages were ready for fill during the period.
Since 2015, China's record amount of crude oil imports have
been driven more by flows into the country's independent
refineries rather than government stockpiling.
China boosted its SPR across nine bases by adding 1.28
million tonnes of crude oil in the first half of 2016, the
Commerce Ministry said on Friday, in their first update in eight
months on one of the world's largest oil reserves.
By mid-2016, the government had 33.25 million tonnes of
crude oil, equivalent to 243 million barrels, up from 31.97
million tonnes at the start of 2016. That equates to an average
fill rate of 52,000 barrels per day.
The government's last update was in September last year.
Seng-Yick Tee, analyst with consultancy SIA Energy, said
9.34 million barrels of crude oil or 102,000 barrels per day
(bpd) were mostly added over a period of three months instead of
Based on data provided from China's National Bureau of
Statistics, the country had marked 43 million barrels during the
second half of 2015, suggesting a fill rate of around 240,000
"Today's announcements confirm our earlier view that the
government's previous update was referring to stockbuild by
March 2016 rather than the beginning of the year," said Tee,
adding there were a few new tankage space available during the
However, the pace of stockpiling quickened in the second
half of 2016 as national oil firms started pumping fuel into two
main new bases -- Tianjin in the north and Zhoushan on the east
coast, Tee explained.
SIA Energy estimates the government's stockpile reached
around 5.6 million tonnes, or 222,000 bpd, during the second
half of 2016, before it drops to 138,000 bpd for this year due
to lack of new storage space.
Reuters has reported that China completed construction of 19
million barrels of new strategic reserve tanks in Zhoushan in
August after several delays, and the construction of a large
government reserve site in southern Guangdong is taking longer
(1 tonne = 7.3 barrels for crude oil)
(Reporting by Josephine Mason and Chen Aizhu; Editing by
Gopakumar Warrier and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)