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China's excess crude rises to 90 million barrels in 2014

China's crude supplies exceeded demand by around 90 million barrels in 2014, up almost 40 per cent over the year before, Reuters calculations using official import and output data show, as the world's largest energy consumer looks to fill its strategic reserves amid low oil prices.

Record imports in 2014, offset somewhat by record refinery throughput, left China with roughly 12 million tonnes of excess crude, after subtracting estimated changes in commercial inventories. That's compared to 9 million tonnes, or 65 million barrels, in 2013, using revised data.

China is secretive about its strategic petroleum reserves (SPR), saying for the first time in November that it was holding 91 million barrels in the first of three phases.

Estimates put China's reserves at close to 30 days worth of imports, far ahead of the official schedule showing 15 days, but still below the OECD-standard 90 days China is aiming for.

December oil imports surpassed 7 million barrels a day, and domestic production was the highest since at least 1999, although record-high December crude runs also consumed more than had been expected.

Commercial inventories also shrank by an estimated 1.4 million tonnes in December, bolstering excess stockpiles. Estimates are based on percentage changes published by the official News Agency.

The Reuters calculations for excess stockpiles do not take into account the small amount of crude that is directly burned as fuel at oil fields or power stations or that is used by small, unreported "teapot" refineries.

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