REFILE-Russia, Iraq squeeze other oil suppliers out of slow-growth China
* Russia, Iraq oil sales rise more than projected China import growth
* Producers in Latin America, Africa offering discounts to Asian buyers
* Latin America, Africa volumes to China dropping this year
By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen
SINGAPORE, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Russia and Iraq are boosting crude shipments to a Chinese market where oil demand is growing at its slowest in more than 20 years, forcing rival suppliers to divert cargoes elsewhere.
The redirected shipments from Latin America, Africa and some Middle Eastern producers that were originally expected to go to Chinese refineries will drag on benchmark prices this year, and state oil companies have already started cutting official selling prices in their search for buyers.
Russia's Rosneft, backed by its government to push East Siberian oil to Asia, and Iraq, armed with big discounts and easy terms, have landed contracts that will raise their combined shipments nearly 50 percent more than China's import demand is forecast to grow in 2014.
With state refiner PetroChina and oil major BP Plc also delaying or dropping refinery projects in China due to worries about demand growth, sellers will be scrambling for shares in a market smaller than they had anticipated. Продолжение...