China gobbles up Angolan oil in rush to year end

* China's November loadings highest since Sept 2014
    * Strong year-end expected on Angola-China route
    * Increase offsets other WAF-Asia declines in Nov
    * Graphic:

    By Libby George
    LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - China's loadings of West African
crude are set to hit their highest in more than two years in
November as the nation's refineries race to stock up and offset
falling domestic oil production, according to a Reuters survey
of shipping fixtures and traders.
    China's November West African crude oil loadings, the bulk
of it Angolan, are on track to reach 1.2 million barrels per day
(bpd), the highest since September 2014, the survey showed on
Monday. December bookings are already expected to be similarly
    "Domestic production declines and stockpiling continue to
generate demand for crude," said Michal Meidan, Asia analyst
with Energy Aspects. "Chinese refiners are also raising runs
after the end of heavy maintenance which ended in September and
ahead of the Chinese New Year, which is quite early this year in
late January."
    Meidan said independent refineries, known as teapots, are
keen to import before the end of the year to ensure the
government renews its import quotas in 2017.     
    Angola has been battling Russian and Saudi Arabia for the
spot as China's top supplier, and Middle Eastern producers have
been offering cargoes under more lenient payment terms in order
to secure a market share. 
    But China's domestic production, which dropped by 9.8
percent year-on-year in September, is similar in quality to
Angolan oil, said Ehsan Ul-Haq, principal consultant with KBC,
making it an attractive alternative. 
    "Beijing needs Angolan crudes," said Ul-Haq said. "Although
China wants to diversify its crude slate, Angola has been and
will remain a key ingredient of its refiners' diet."
    According to Clipperdata, an industry firm that tracks crude
movements, China's imports of Angolan oil in the first nine
months of 2016 stood nearly 100,000 bpd higher than a year
    Already, Chinese firms including Unipec and CNOOC have
booked spot cargoes of Angolan oil for December loading, on top
of term cargoes that included seven awarded to Sinochem alone. 
    The strong bookings to China helped to balance out a small
decline in November loadings to India, Indonesia and elsewhere,
holding overall West African exports to Asia at 1.9 million bpd.

 COUNTRY     November     BPD '000s  October      BPD '000s
             cargoes                 cargoes      
 CHINA       38           1,203      36           1,103
 INDIA       15           475        17           521
 INDONESIA   1            32         4            123
 TAIWAN      4            127        2            61
 JAPAN       0            0          0            0
 S. KOREA    0            0          0            0
 OTHERS      2            63         3            92
 TOTAL       60           1,900      60           1,900
 (Reporting by Libby George; Editing by Susan Fenton)