Despite the low oil demand during the COVID-19 outbreak in China, the world’s top oil importer is set to increase its crude oil imports by 2 percent in 2020, thanks to the low oil prices, according to a research think-tank affiliated with state oil giant China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).
China’s apparent crude oil consumption is expected to increase by between 1 percent and 2 percent year on year, CNPC Research says, as carried by Reuters.
However, demand for refined oil products in China is forecast to record its first drop in two decades, as it is expected to fall by 5 percent this year compared to last year.
Natural gas demand is seen rising, but at the slowest pace in 20 years, as per CNPC, and this low growth could give the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market another headache on top of the current oversupply and sluggish demand amid the pandemic.
China was the first to go into lockdown after the COVID-19 virus emerged in Wuhan, but it was also the first country to exit lockdown. Demand for oil and fuels has been rising over the past month as people return to commuting to work, preferring their own vehicles to public transportation.
Later this week, China could give more impetus to crude oil demand and imports, as China’s top policy-setting meetings are set to begin on Friday to chart the course for the Chinese economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The National People’s Congress (NPC), the most important policy-setting annual event in the Communist country, is expected to decide what stimulus to inject into the economy after it markedly slowed during the pandemic. Many of the potential decisions for supporting infrastructure and railroads and other commodity-intensive sectors could drive up China’s demand for crude oil, fuels, and other commodities, including steel and copper, according to Bloomberg News.