June 22, 2024
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China’s Crude Oil Imports Surge by 5.45% in April

Chinese crude oil imports surged by 5.45% in April compared to the same period last year, according to official statistics from China released on Thursday.

Last month, Chinese refineries brought in 10.88 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, marking an increase from the 10.4 million bpd recorded in April 2023, as reported by Reuters, citing data from the General Administration of Customs.

However, April’s crude imports in China dropped from the preceding month. In March, there was a 6% decline in crude oil imports compared to the same time last year, though still registering at 11.55 million bpd.

While March’s figures were lower by 6.2% compared to the high volumes of March 2023, attributed to China’s recovery from eased Covid-related restrictions, they were higher than the January-February average. This contributed to a 0.7% overall increase in Chinese crude imports for the first quarter of 2024.

Analysts point out that much of the first-quarter increase in Chinese crude oil imports was driven by the availability of cheap Russian crude, redirected due to U.S. sanctions affecting its intended route to India.

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However, April saw a decline in imports compared to March, attributed to rising oil prices at the time of cargo contracts.

“China’s crude purchasing slowed due to strengthened oil prices and weakened domestic diesel demand,” said Lin Ye, an analyst at Rystad Energy in Beijing, in comments to Reuters.

April also witnessed a subdued manufacturing recovery in China, while the ongoing property crisis continued to impact construction-intensive fuels like diesel.

Looking ahead, new fuel export quotas and the recent dip in oil prices could stimulate further crude purchases by Chinese refineries. Earlier in the month, China issued a second batch of refined petroleum product export quotas for 2024, nearly matching the volumes allocated in the first batch.

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