China imported higher volumes of crude oil in September compared to the same month of 2022, while other energy commodity imports remained robust and imports of unwrought copper hit the highest monthly level so far this year.
The Chinese economy has recently shown the first signs of manufacturing recovery, with factory activity – as measured by the official Purchasing Managers' Index – expanding in September for the first time in six months.
China’s crude oil imports rose by 14% year-over-year in September, to 11.13 million barrels per day (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.
Between January and September, China’s crude oil imports averaged 11.34 million bpd, up by 14.6% compared to the same period of 2022, when the world’s top crude importer was still under strict Covid-related lockdowns.
Natural gas imports into China held above 10 million tons in September, basically flat on the year, according to the customs data.
Chinese coal imports dropped in September from a record high in August, but they were still the third-highest in any month ever, at 42.1 million tons, per the data quoted by Bloomberg.
Despite cooler weather in September compared to the heat waves in the summer, China’s coal imports were very high by historical standards as power plants were restocking for the winter.
Demand from the clean energy sector boosted Chinese imports of unwrought copper and products to the highest level in 2023 so far, per the data cited by Bloomberg.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.