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China Boosts Crude Oil Import Quotas By 20% From Last Year

Chinese authorities have issued a third batch of crude oil import quotas to refiners for 2023, with overall allowances up by 20% in the first half of this year compared to the same period of 2022.

China issued 62.28 million tons of import quotas to private refiners – those that need government authorization to import crude unlike state-held oil refining giants – in the latest batch, Reuters reported on Wednesday, quoting documents and sources.   

With the latest batch for 2023, the total crude import allowances for Chinese refiners for the first half of the year have risen to 194.1 million tons. This is 20% higher than the crude import quotas allocated in the first half of 2022.

Back in H1 2022, the overall import quotas for Chinese refiners were 161.72 million tons, while the June 2022 batch included quotas of 52.69 million tons, Reuters notes. 

In the latest batch of quotas from June 2023, Zhejiang Petroleum & Chemical Co, a subsidiary of Rongsheng Petrochemical, received the largest quota, at 20 million tons, according to Reuters’ sources familiar with the matter.

The first batch of quotas for imports for 2023 was issued as early as in October last year, almost three months ahead of the usual schedule.

The second batch of crude import quotas was a massive 111.82 million tons, as the country reopened from Covid restrictions after nearly three years of lockdowns.

The reopening led to an increase in oil demand in China, but recent macroeconomic data from the world’s top crude oil importer have had forecasters and analysts concerned that demand may not be as strong as initially expected.

Chinese refiners are gorging on cheap Russian crude as China and India are pretty much the only markets – but large ones – for Russia’s oil now.

As Chinese refiners returned from maintenance and built stockpiles, China’s crude oil imports jumped in May to the third-highest level on record, customs data showed last week. 

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on June 14 2023 said:
    What does this tell us? It tells us three things.

    1- That China’s crude oil imports in 2023 have already broken all previous records. In April this year China’s imports hit 13.0 million barrels a day (mbd), the highest ever in its history and in May crude imports were the third-highest level on record.

    2- It tells us that Russian crude oil exports particularly to China will continue to break more records this year having already done so in January, March, April and May this year.

    3- It belies Western media claims that China’s economy is slowing down and that will affect global oil demand. How could this be true when China’s economy grew by 4.5% in the first quarter of 2023 and is projected to grow by 5.2%-6.5% during the year?

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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