China holds about 91 million barrels of crude in its strategic oil reserves, the Financial Times reported Friday.
It’s the first time Beijing has released data on its oil stockpile after President Xi Jinping said last week that the government will start regularly releasing such information.
The move follows an energy agreement this summer between China and the United Stataes.
On Thursday, the National Bureau of Statistics said China holds 12.43 million tons of crude, or about 91 million barrels, in four locations in the first stage of its strategic build-up.
It did not give figures for succeeding phases.
The figure corresponds to unofficial estimates a few years ago from China’s top energy regulator at the time but is slightly lower than assumed by many analysts in the West.
“It’s related to the new leadership drive to be market-oriented and transparent. It’s a positive step,” said Wu Kang, the Asian managing director for Facts Global Energy consultancy.
However, the statistics bureau did not quantify the size of its second or third stages in the national plan to build strategic oil reserves.
Some of those sites are complete and being filled while others are under construction, the report said.
Petroleum Argus, an industry publication, estimates China has 150 million barrels of reserves in seven strategic depots.
Energy Aspects, a London-based consultant, puts the figure at about 87 million barrels.
Stocks held in the four depots belonging to the first part of China’s stockpile are roughly nine days of consumption, well short of the 90 days of imports recommended by the International Energy Agency.
China imports roughly 60 per cent of its crude needs.
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