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Crude oil imports to Asia last month declined from August amid refinery maintenance and higher prices. This was the second consecutive monthly dip in imports, Reuters’ Clyde Russell reported.
London Stock Exchange Group data showed that crude oil shipments to Asia averaged 24.95 million barrels daily in September. This was down from 25.22 million barrels daily in August and from 27.92 million barrels daily in July.
The higher rate of imports in July and previous months was in part due to refiners ramping up output to stock up on ready fuels before maintenance season begins. Yet higher prices have also played a role in changes in the import trends.
The slowdown in oil imports could extend over the whole final quarter of the year because of higher crude prices, which are also pushing up the prices of fuels, especially diesel, where global supply is particularly tight.
China was, as usual, the biggest importer, taking in 11.53 million barrels daily in September, down from 12.49 million barrels daily in August. However, refiners continued to boost fuel production thanks to inventories built earlier in the year when oil prices were lower.
According to Russell, China added some 810,000 bpd to its oil inventories over the first eight months of the year, for a total of 197 million barrels. Many analysts believe China can use these inventories as a tool for price control, should benchmarks rise too high.
Meanwhile, Goldman said this weekend that China’s oil demand was booming despite often disappointing macroeconomic figures this year.
“This strength in demand has largely been tied to a combination of strong growth from the green economy, grid and property completions,” the bank said in a note, which saw demand for oil in China rose 6% on the year this year. Copper demand was up 8% and iron ore demand was up by 7%, the note also said.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com