* China's crude stocks equal to 86 days of imports - Tanaka
* Four days away from 90-day standard needed to join IEA
* Implies about 300 mln bbls oil stocks, more than estimated
(Adds analysts comments and context)
By David Stanway and Eadie Chen
BEIJING, July 3 China's state and commercial
stocks of crude oil were equivalent to 86 days of net imports,
only 4 days short of the amount needed to join the International
Energy Agency, IEA head Nobuo Tanaka said on Friday.
Based on net crude imports of 1.28 billion barrels last
year, the figure suggested Chinese oil reserves of about 300
"China may now only be four days away from the 90 days IEA
members are required to maintain," Tanaka told a conference in
Beijing. "The figure is very surprising, I agree."
Tanaka said he would welcome China as an equal partner in
the IEA, the industrialised world's energy watchdog and
consuming nations' counterpoint to OPEC, but said he did not say
China would ever join.
The data tallies with those released by OGP, a Xinhua-run
news letter, which said China's crude oil inventories, including
both commercial stocks and strategic petroleum reserves (SPR),
rose 0.4 percent during May to 38.75 million tonnes or 283
Chinese officials have said they want to use this year's
lower oil prices to build up reserves of crude oil.
Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Agency, told
Reuters last month that China aimed to eventually meet the OECD
standard of 90 days, and had approved the construction of a
second phase of oil reserves in a bid to get closer to that
But joining the IEA might run against China's interests. The
transparent disclosure required of IEA members might compromise
China's freedom to manoeuvre in the oil market, analysts said.
"It is detrimental to China's strategic interest," said
Daniel Liu, a Singapore-based energy strategist from MF
"If sensitive inventory level is totally publicised every
month, speculators could outguess China's (stategic stocks)
filling price trigger or release trigger, and front-run China,"
China has filled its first phase of state oil reserves,
which can hold 102 million barrels of oil, and may eventually
build a third phase, which would take total storage capacity to
476 million barrels.
Although data on state reserves is hard to come by,
information about commercial stocks of crude is even more
Analysts say China's commercial stocks have grown this year.
Refiners have taken advantage of relatively cheap input costs as
they prepared to drum up production, with an eye on higher fuel
For a factbox about China's state oil reserves, please
For a factbox about China's commercial oil storage, please