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Chinese Fuel Oil Imports Continue To Dip From Decade-High  

Soaring prices and recovering imports of diluted bitumen led to a second consecutive month of lower fuel oil imports into China compared to the previous month, according to official Chinese data.

China’s fuel oil imports dropped by 8% from July to 1.4 million metric tons in August, per the data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs released on Wednesday and quoted by Reuters. Still, fuel oil imports in August more than doubled compared to the same month of 2022.

The July imports of fuel oil into China plunged by 44% compared to June, according to the customs data summarized by Reuters. In June, Chinese imports of fuel oil hit a decade-high of 2.7 million tons, up by 5% on the month and a massive 226% surge compared to June 2022. 

China’s imports of fuel oil were high at the end of the first quarter and in the second quarters as refiners scooped up discounted high-sulfur fuel oil from Russia and imported more fuel oil as Chinese authorities were cracking down on imports of cargoes labeled as diluted bitumen.

Since China eased at the end of June the checks and released oil imported from Iran and Venezuela that was waiting at ports for weeks amid increased cargo scrutiny, Chinese imports of diluted bitumen have recovered, pushing demand for fuel oil lower.

In addition, Asian prices of high-sulfur fuel oil shot up in August in a tightening higher-sulfur oil market, further discouraging fuel oil imports, Reuters notes.

Meanwhile, China imported in August the third-highest monthly crude oil volumes ever as crude arrivals surged by 20.9% compared to July and by 30.9% versus August last year, according to Chinese customs data.

Chinese crude imports hit 12.43 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, the third-highest ever daily rate of arrivals in a month, per Reuters estimates on data from the General Administration of Customs.

Crude imports soared as refiners continued to build stockpiles and raise refinery runs in order to capture higher margins exporting fuels.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • John on September 20 2023 said:
    These numbers are inconceivable when taking into account that mainland China was hit with 3 of the worst typhoons to hit China in decades. 40% of mainland China was flooded. Beijing along with a host of other major cities were completely flooded, entire small cities and towns wiped away. Tens of millions of people displaced and industries lost, but yet somehow the economic numbers tied to fuel consumption are at all time high surpassing past years when their economy was firing on all cylinders. Even the infamous forbidden city flooded, which it never does. I would definitely question the validity of of these numbers.
  • Mamdouh Salameh on September 20 2023 said:
    The author should look at the whole picture. While Chinese fuel oil imports dropped by 8% in August, Chinese exports of petroleum products broke records in August thus necessitating the third-largest imports of crude oil in its history amounting to 12.43 million barrels a day (mbd).

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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