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Stronger fuel demand due to a week-long holiday and a fresh batch of oil import quotas boosted China’s crude oil imports by 13.5% year-over-year in October, customs data showed on Tuesday.
China imported 11.53 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil last month, slightly up compared to 11.13 million bpd in September, but much higher than in October 2022, when the world’s top crude oil importer was still under strict Covid-related travel restrictions, per Chinese customs data crunched by Reuters.
In September, China’s crude oil imports rose by 14% annually to 11.13 million bpd, according to data from China’s General Administration of Customs cited by Reuters.
The imports in September were lower than the August crude cargo arrivals, which saw the third-highest monthly crude oil volumes ever. Crude oil imports surged to 12.43 million bpd in August, up by 20.9% compared to July and by 30.9% versus August last year, according to Chinese customs data.
The still robust crude oil imports in September were the result of refiners stocking up ahead of a week-long holiday in China between the end of September and early October, in which travel typically accelerates and fuel demand rises.
The so-called Golden Week holiday saw Chinese refiners importing robust volumes of crude in October, too. Gasoline and jet fuel demand surged during the holiday as travelers within mainland China made 4.1% more trips than in the 2019 holiday week, before the pandemic.
Moreover, refiners started using the latest batch of crude oil import quotas allocated by the authorities.
In early October, China issued a fourth batch of crude oil import quotas, with which it raised the 2023 total quota volumes to 203.64 million metric tons, refinery sources told Reuters last month. The latest batch of import quotas lifted the overall 2023 quota volumes by 14% compared to the allocations for 2022.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.