February 29, 2016 / 3:58 PM / 3 years ago

China, India oil buying underpins W. Africa's March flows east

LONDON (Reuters) - West African crude oil flows east are expected to stay strong in March as Chinese term buying remains elevated and several additional cargoes were booked for India, according to Reuters vessel tracking and a survey of traders.

A female employee fills the tank of a car at a petrol station in Cairo, Egypt, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Sixty-two cargoes have been booked so far to load West African crude for buyers in Asia, including 33 for China. The total is two cargoes above February, but lower on a barrel per day (bpd) basis due to the shorter month.

Exports to China are locked in at a higher level since Angola’s Sonangol inked a deal with Sinochem that included as many as six cargoes per month on a term basis.

The deal began in February, increasing the amount of West African crude sailing east under contract.

Indian buying rebounded slightly from the 13-month low it reached on a bpd basis in February. Traders said the startup of the 300,000-bpd Paradip refinery, which started processing oil early in February, encouraged more bookings to India.

A more favourable spread between Brent and Dubai crudes also helped make West African oil attractive to eastern spot buyers; India’s Reliance booked at least two cargoes for March loading.

COUNTRY MARCH BPD ‘000S FEBRUARY BPD ‘000S

CARGOES CARGOES

CHINA 33 1,011 34 1,114

INDIA 17 521 14 459

INDONESIA 3 92 3 98

TAIWAN 4 123 4 131

JAPAN 0 0 0 0

S. KOREA 2 61 2 66

OTHERS 3 92 3 98

TOTAL 62 1,900 60 1,966

Reporting by Libby George; Editing by Dale Hudson

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