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Bangladesh started in recent days a large crude oil receiving and offloading facility built by China that allows the south Asian oil importer to significantly reduce the cost of shipping in crude oil, a senior industry official told Reuters on Friday.

The single-point mooring facility at Chattogram port last Sunday offloaded 82,000 tons (about 600,000 barrels) of crude oil from a 100,000-ton tanker, said an official with state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corp (BPC).

The project is majority-funded by the Chinese government and build by a unit of Chinese state oil major CNPC, said the BPC official who declined to be named as he’s not authorized to speak to the media.

Bangladesh, which imports most of its oil needs, does not have a deepwater port and has relied on small vessels to ship crude oil from large tankers parked outside ports.

That typically takes 11 days to offload a 100,000 ton oil cargo and the new facility cuts the offloading time to 48 hours, the official said.

An engineering unit of state major CNPC began in 2019 building the offloading facility financed by Export-Import Bank of China which offers preferential loans, the official added.

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The new facility is expected to facilitate the planned expansion of Bangladesh’s only refinery to 3 million tons per year (60,000 barrels per day) from 1.5 million tons per year currently, said the official.

Eastern Refinery Limited, Bangladesh’s sole refiner, currently processes 1.4 million tonnes of crude oil annually.

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