China to Announce Details of Oil Reserve Sales in Due Course

BEIJING/SINGAPORE (Reuters) — China said on Monday it will announce details of planned crude oil sales from strategic reserves in due course.

The National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration issued a four-sentence statement late on Thursday announcing the country will for the first time sell state crude reserves via public auction.

"We will disclose the time frame and the volume of the auction on our official website in due course," a reserves administration spokesperson said on Monday, in response to Reuters queries.

The vague wording and the lack of detail in Thursday's announcement created some confusion among market watchers over whether the auctions had already taken place or would happen in the future.

She declined to clarify if the auction may include unconfirmed reserve sales that some analysts said took place in July and August.

State oil refinery sources told Reuters on Friday that the government may pick key plants that have direct pipeline links to reserve bases for such auctions, but added they were not certain how the sales would be priced.

China, which closely guards information about its emergency stockpile, had over the years sold some reserves to state refineries on an ad-hoc basis, with prices in line with prevailing market rates, one of the sources said.

Benchmark Brent crude briefly fell nearly 2% late on Thursday following the announcement.

"The move...shows again that the Chinese physical appetite for crude imports is one of the key forces for prices and expectations," said analysts from Rystad Energy in a note on Friday. 

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