China bans imports of crude oil contaminated with organic chloride

SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) - China has banned imports of crude oil containing more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of organic chloride, a contaminant that can damage refining equipment, the country’s General Administration of Customs said in a faxed statement on Friday.

The statement was in response to questions from Reuters sent last week on whether China was restricting imports of Russian crude oil contaminated with the chemical.

Last week, Reuters reported that five trading sources said China’s customs had told buyers not to take Russian crude with more than 10ppm of organic chloride. The contaminant started appearing in shipments of Russia’s Urals crude on European pipelines and on tankers loading in the Baltic Sea in April.

Organic chloride is used to boost the output of wells but can corrode the metal in refineries.

China’s ban has put additional pressure on oil traders that are struggling to place cargoes of the contaminated oil, with more than 1 million tonnes held on tankers unable to be sold.

Reporting by Chen Aizhu in Singapore and Beijing newsroom; editing by Christian Schmollinger