The world’s major crude oil importers
As our overview of the crude tanker industry showed, the world’s largest importers of oil include Japan, India, China, other Asia Pacific countries, the United States, and European countries. By country, the United States has historically been the largest importer of crude oil, followed by China. In 2012, the U.S. imported 8,491 thousand barrels of crude a day, while China imported 5,433 thousand barrels, based on data from BP Statistical Review.
Three major groups of importers
Investors can separate major importers into three groups: Europe, the United States, and China with India. This is because the Japanese market has been relatively stagnant over the years, while other Asia Pacific countries are much more dependent on China’s economic activity. The U.S. and European markets have been weak over the last few years, but things can change.
The importance of the United States
The United States made up about 12.5% of total exports coming out of the Middle East and West Africa in 2012. Since U.S. oil imports depend on multiple factors like economic activity, oil consumption, miles traveled, domestic production, rig count, refinery capacity, and oil price differences (as stated in our overview series), it’s important for investors to follow these indicators to make better investment decisions. This is even more important for the crude tanker industry because business is volatile and cyclical.
Eight must-know charts
This series will cover eight charts on the U.S. oil market that have important implications for crude tankers like Frontline Ltd. (FRO), Nordic American Tanker Ltd. (NAT), Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd. (TNP), and Teekay Tankers Ltd. (TNK). They will also reflect the Guggenheim Shipping ETF (SEA).
Correction: When this article was originally published on January 2, 2014, it indicated that “China imported 5,433 million barrels” of oil. This was corrected to “China imported 5,433 thousand barrels” on January 3, 2014.