U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil futures nudged higher on weekend after posting a two-sided trade. Nonetheless, there was enough strength generated early in the week to offset a small decline from Wednesday, leading to a more than 2% weekly gain.
Both Brent and WTI closed higher for a second consecutive week as easing restrictions on movement in the United States and Europe, recovering factory operations and coronavirus vaccinations pave the way for a revival in fuel demand.
China’s April Oil Imports Fall 0.2% Year over Year as Refining Margins Narrow
China’s crude oil imports in April fell 0.2% from a year earlier as refiners curbed production to relieve a squeeze in profit margins brought about by rising crude oil prices and bulging inventories.
The world’s biggest crude oil buyer brought in 40.36 million tonnes of crude oil in April, or 9.82 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Friday. That was the lowest since December and was down from 11.69 million bpd of imports in March.
“We expect imports over May-June to be higher than what the market previously anticipated. Crude imports should rise to 11.0-11.5 million bpd levels in August-September, with the ramp up of new refining capacities,” said Chen Jiyao, head of China client advisory at energy consultancy FGE.
Friday’s data also showed China’s refined fuel exports fell 14.8% over April 2020 to 6.82 million tonnes, despite the bulging inventory at dominant state refiners.
U.S. energy firms added oil and natural gas rigs for a second week in a row as higher oil prices prompted some drillers to return to the wellpad.
The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose eight to 448 in the week to May 7, its highest since April 2020, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said in its closely followed report on Friday.