According to Bloomberg, two dozen or more crude-laden are waiting on queue to discharge at terminals on China’s east coast that supply state-owned and independent refiners in the region, according shipbrokers and vessel-tracking data.
Following the crude's fall, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Asia's largest economy is recovering in oill consumption, with demand in May almost back to levels seen before the coronavirus triggered stay-at-home orders.
In addition, Chinese refineries are boosting operations to convert more crude into gasoline and diesel after factories reopened and millions of people returned to work following the easing of restrictions.
The tankers arrived in Chinese waters during the second half of May and the ships have been idling off ports in Shandong and Liaoning provinces, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The majority of the vessels are Suezmaxes and Very-Large Crude Carriers, which are estimated to be collectively carrying about 4 million tons or more of oil from countries including Russia, Colombia, Angola and Brazil.
In Shandong, home to the Qingdao and Rizhao terminals, the rates reached a record high of about 76% at the end of May, compared with a low of 42% in February, according to industry consultant SCI99.
Bloomberg notes that there is a possibility the queues might get longer, with the highest number of supertankers since at least the start of 2017 hauling crude to China from almost everywhere across the globe.