China in 140,000 bpd Libya oil deals for 2012-traders

China's top two state oil firms have agreed to lift a total of about 140,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Libya under term deals for 2012, set to raise China's crude purchases from the North African exporter after supply disruptions last year.

State trader Unipec, the trading arm of top Asian refiner China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec) , would lift about 100,000 bpd from Libya, while Chinaoil, trading department of PetroChina, would buy another 40,000 bpd, traders with knowledge of the deals told Reuters.

The two contracts were signed separately with Libya's National Oil Company (NOC), and cover January-December supplies this year, with Unipec standing out as one of Libya's largest oil clients as its output recovered after a civil war last year.

"In terms of volumes, Unipec should be one of NOC's biggest buyers," said one trader.

China's crude imports from Libya fell by nearly two-thirds last year against 2010 to about 52,000 bpd, Chinese customs data showed, as the civil war in Libya hit production facilities and halted exports for about six months.

Libya's crude exports were expected to rise to 800,000 bpd in January, while production climbed to 1.3 million bpd, moving closer to pre-war levels of around 1.77 million bpd, Reuters had reported.

Unipec's 100,000 bpd contract is tiny compared with China's total crude imports of more than 5 million bpd, but it adds to Unipec's increased supplies secured through similar term deals with Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Together, they will help cover the cuts Unipec made in term Iranian crude imports, estimated by a senior Chinese trade executive to be up to 54,000 bpd for 2012.

OPEC member Libya last December awarded oil supply contracts for 2012 to four major trading houses - Glencore, Gunvor, Trafigura and Vitol.

(Source: Reuters)

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