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China’s crude oil imports went up by 15.4 percent on an annual basis last month on the back of more purchases coming from state-owned companies, Platts reports. The daily import rate for state oil companies was 8.8 million barrels.
Teapot refiners, who drove last year’s increase in Chinese oil imports, last month bought 46 percent more crude than in May 2016, although the 1.99 million bpd was 3 percent lower than their daily import rate for April.
According to Platts, the May import rate is the second-highest on record, after the 9.21-million-bpd recorded for this March. The news service of the ratings agency quoted an analyst from the S&P Platts China Oil Analytics department as saying that most of the cargoes that arrived in May were booked in March, when oil prices were attractively low.
Right now, prices are even more attractive, but this month is likely to see smaller import figures for state-owned companies because of the ramp-up of supplies. This should change in July as peak demand for fuels kicks in.
Teapot imports may fall more consistently. Earlier this week, a group that represents most of the independent oil refiners in China issued a statement pledging the members’ full compliance with government regulation governing how these independents operate, so that they don’t trigger complaints from the state-owned giants, Reuters reported after seeing the statement.
The statement comes after Beijing announced it would stop accepting applications by refiners to import crude oil beginning May 5. It also began stricter checks on the teapots’ tax practices.
However, in the same month the government issued additional fuel export quotas, which helped a 5.5-percent annual increase in fuel exports in that month. The monthly increase in fuel exports was heftier, at 15.1 percent, to make for refinery closures for maintenance during the previous month and the fulfillment of older quotas.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.