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Industrials

China ups West African crude Feb loadings as term buying rises

* Per-day exports to China highest since Sept. 2014
    * Total of 34 cargoes to China highest since March 2015
    * Indian barrel-per-day buying lowest since Jan. 2015

    By Libby George
    LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - China's West African crude
loadings were set to pass 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in
February, the highest per day since September 2014, as a new
term deal took effect and other buyers stocked up on low priced
oil.  
    The increase pushed overall West African crude oil exports
to Asia in February to the highest level on a per-day basis
since July. 
    Per-day exports were higher in part because of the shorter
month in February; December loadings showed four more cargoes
than February. 
    But a new term deal between Angola and China's Sinochem,
signed late last year, took effect for February-loading cargoes,
increasing the amount of West African crude sailing east under
contract.
    Traders said the agreement covered as many as five cargoes a
month, sending more Angolan crude to China and leaving less for
state-run Sonangol to sell on the spot market. 
    Other sellers and traders were also keen to move cargoes of
oil to China to meet demand from its independent "teapot"
refineries. Beijing granted independent refiners 1.45 million
barrels per day (bpd) of crude quotas - a fifth of China's total
crude imports - marking a faster than expected market opening
than many had anticipated. 
    The Chinese buying offset a decline in exports to India,
which slid by six cargoes from January to the lowest on a bpd
basis since January 2015. While fuel demand in India has risen
sharply over the past year, helping drive an increase in its
imports of West African oil, the country's refiners have been
fickle buyers, looking for the best price in an oversupplied
market. 
    Additionally, some refiners, such as Hindustan Petroleum
Corp, have announced plans to import Iranian crude again
following the lifting of sanctions against Tehran. 
    Iran has targeted India, Asia's fastest-growing oil market,
as a primary destination for oil, and shipping schedules showed
that India plans to load more than 300,000 bpd in February, up
from 183,000 bpd in January. 
    
 COUNTRY         FEBRUARY       BPD       JANUARY     BPD '000s
                 CARGOES        '000s     CARGOES     
 CHINA           34             1,114     27          827
 INDIA           14             459       20          613
 INDONESIA       3              98        3           92
 TAIWAN          4              131       4           123
 JAPAN           0              0         0           0
 S. KOREA        2              66        1           31
 OTHERS          3              98        4           123
 TOTAL           60             1,966     59          1,808
 
    
 (Reporting by Libby George; editing by David Clarke)
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