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China’s Crude Oil Imports Climbed by 5.5% Year-on-Year in April

Chinese imports of crude oil rose by 5.45% in April compared to the same month last year as refiners stocked up on crude to prepare for the five-day local Labor Day weekend that began on May 1, China’s official statistics showed on Thursday.   

Last month, Chinese refiners imported 10.88 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, up compared to 10.4 million bpd imported for the same month of 2023, per data from the General Administration of Customs cited by Reuters.

However, Chinese crude imports in April this year slumped from the levels from the previous month.  

In March, Chinese imports of crude oil fell by 6% compared to the same month last year but stood at 11.55 million bpd.

While lower by 6.2% compared to the March 2023 volumes of over 12 million bpd – when China was recovering from the eased Covid-related restrictions – the imports in March were higher than the January-February average and contributed to a 0.7% increase in Chinese crude imports in January to March 2024.

In fact, much of the increase in Chinese crude oil imports in the first quarter of 2024 was due to cheap abundant flows of Russian crude, which – hampered en route to India by the U.S. sanctions – has found a home in the world’s top crude oil importer, analysts say.

But in April, imports fell compared to March amid rising oil prices at the time cargoes were contracted.

“China’s crude buying slowed down on strengthened crude oil prices and weakened domestic diesel demand,” Lin Ye, an analyst at Rystad Energy in Beijing, told Reuters.

Manufacturing recovery in China was again muted in April, while the property crisis continues to weigh on construction-intensive fuels such as diesel.   

Going forward, new fuel export quotas and the recent slide in oil prices could spur crude buying from Chinese refiners. Earlier this month, China allocated more export quotas for refined petroleum products for 2024, issuing a second batch that nearly matches the volumes in the first batch. 

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on May 09 2024 said:
    China’s appetite for oil is unquenchable and it will continue to grow as long as oil continues to drive the global economy.

    This, I am sure, won’t be welcome news for the IEA, Rystad Energy, the EU Secretariat, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and environmental activists.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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