Wednesday, June 14, 2017

China's May crude oil imports soar on increased buying by state-owned refiners

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Buying by state-owned refiners pushed up China's crude oil imports in May 15.4% year on year to 37.2 million mt, or 8.8 million b/d.

But analysts said they expected crude inflows to ease in June due to high stocks.

Imports in May rose 4.7% month on month, recent preliminary data released by the General Administration of Customs showed.

The imports are the second highest level ever after 9.21 million b/d imported in March this year.

“The increase was mainly from state-owned refiners as crude arrivals for independent refiners declined from April,” said Hou Rui, an analyst with S&P Global Platts' China Oil Analytics.

Independent refineries in China's eastern Shandong and Hebei provinces imported 8.43 million mt, or 1.99 million b/d, of crude oil in May, down 3% from April despite a 46% year-on-year increase, Platts data showed.

He added that most of the cargoes for the state-owned refiners were booked in March when oil prices were low.

"Refinery outages remained high in May, so the incremental barrels are likely to flow into storage for use in June," Hou said.

China's oil product exports in May increased 5.5% year on year to 4.03 million mt following additional export quota issued in mid-May. Exports were up 15.1% from April.

The latest state of play for Chinese refining and tea pot refineries in particular will be debated at length, along with many other key regional markets, at Platts European Refining Summit in Brussels this September.

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