the recent sharp decline in crude oil prices on international markets. Oil prices are hovering around $37 a barrel, down from their peak of more than $147 in July.

Traders said that China has already pumped some 7.3 million barrels of Saudi crude into the Huangdao base, near Qingdao city on its east coast.

 

China has continued to import huge volumes of crude in recent months even as its economic growth has shown clear signs of slowing down and refiners are curtailing production. The bulk of the imports are believed to have been used to fill up the SPRs, which, in addition to Huangdao include facilities at Zhenhai and Zhoushan.

China’s crude oil imports jumped 28% year-on-year in October and rose 10.6% in the first 10 months of 2008 from year-ago levels.