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China Intervenes in Oil Market With Historic Sale of Reserves

China, the world's largest oil importer, has built up a 220 million barrel reserve of the commodity over the past decade, according to Energy Aspects Ltd. The buffer differs from strategic petroleum reserves, known as SPR, held in the U.S. and Europe, which are only tapped during supply outages and wars. China however is signaling it is willing to use its reserve to try to influence the market. Foto: Imaginechina via AP Foto: Imaginechina via AP

China made an unprecedented intervention in the global oil market, releasing crude from its strategic reserve for the first time with the explicit aim of lowering prices.

The announcement comes amid surging energy costs in China, not just for oil but also for coal and natural gas, and electricity shortages in some provinces that have forced some factories to cut production. Inflation is rapidly rising too, a political headache for Beijing...

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