China Sept. crude oil, gas imports jump ahead of winter fuel demand

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China’s September crude oil imports climbed to the second highest level on record, while natural gas imports rose to nearly five per cent, official customs data showed on Friday.

China as the world’s top energy consumer , shored up fuel supplies for winter.

For the year to date, gas imports were 48.38 million tonnes, up by 22.3 percent, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

Gas arrivals last month reached 5.94 million tonnes, up 3.7 per cent from a year ago and up 4.9 per cent from August.

China is preparing to heat millions of homes with gas for the first time, which has stoked demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, as they are cheaper than domestic supplies.

Asian LNG spot prices LNG-AS have soared 57 per cent since March to $8.50 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) on growing demand for gas in the world’s second-biggest economy.

Crude oil imports C-CNIMP-PRM rose 12 per cent in September to 37 million tonnes, or around nine million barrels per day (bpd).

This figure is up from an eight-month month low in August, boosted by buying from China National Offshore Oil Corp’s new refinery and a fleet of independent refiners.

Year-to-date, crude buying rose 12 per cent from a year ago to 318 million tonnes, or 8.5 million bpd, a record high.

“September imports were higher than expected.

The support mainly comes from CNOOC’s Huizhou refinery which just started and some teapot plants returning from maintenance,” said Harry Liu, downstream expert with consultancy IHS Markit.

Liu expects imports through the fourth quarter to average about 8.6 million bpd, with import growth to ease due to a domestic surplus of refined fuel.

“The government’s fuel export quotas are having an impact on refinery throughput and subsequently on crude oil imports,” he said.

Total oil product exports C-FUEXP-PRM in September fell 11 per cent to 3.82 million tonnes from a year ago and dropped 17 per cent from August.

The Commerce Ministry issued a fourth batch of refined product export quotas in late September to ease oversupply in the domestic market.

Major refiner Sinopec and PetroChina have applied for extra quotas to export more gasoline, diesel and jet fuel before the end of the year, sources told Media.

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