RUSSIAN OIL FOR CHINA UP ANEW
BLOOMBERG - 27, MAY, 2022 - China’s oil trading giant Unipec has significantly increased the number of hired tankers to ship a key crude from eastern Russia.
China International United Petroleum & Chemical Co., better known as Unipec, has chartered at least 10 tankers so far this month to transport Russian ESPO crude that’s loaded from Kozmino port, according to traders and a shipbroker. That would be a fivefold increase on the number of vessels booked for the trade a month earlier, data from shipping analytics firm Vortexa show.
The hired vessels are mostly smaller aframax ships as well as two much larger supertankers, including the Yuan Qiu Hu, which was recently involved in a rare ship-to-ship transfer of ESPO off South Korea. The Russian grade can usually be transported to China on a direct, five-day journey, although its unclear if all the vessels booked by Unipec will deliver their cargoes to Chinese ports.
A Beijing-based spokesman for Sinopec, the parent of Unipec, said they didn’t have information that could be publicly disclosed on the matter.
China has emerged as a willing buyer of Russian oil as others shun the OPEC+ producer’s energy due to the war in Ukraine. While a resurgence of Covid-19 has sapped Chinese demand, Russian barrels are typically being sold at a discount, making them very attractive to some major consumers.