China’s crude oil imports in October surged 11.5% from a year earlier to a record high, customs data confirmed, as new refineries reinforced demand and small impartial plants maintained throughput amid steady refining margins.
Nonetheless, natural gas imports in October dropped 10.6% from a year earlier, its first drop since November 2016, based on data of customs data.
China, the world’s prime oil importer, brought in 45.51 million tonnes of crude in October, i.e., 10.72 million barrels per day (bpd), based on records released by the General Administration of Customs.
That compared to 10.04 million bpd a month earlier.
Imports during the initial ten months of the year touched 414.55 million tonnes, i.e., 9.95 million bpd, 10.5% higher than the year-earlier period.
However, Chinese refiners have had a tough year due to fierce competition in the domestic fuel sector as demand tanked in tandem with a moderating economy.
Top Asian refiner Sinopec Corp reported last week its third-quarter earnings fell 35% against 2018 partly because of narrowing refining profits.
PetroChina, which recorded a 58% annual fall in third-quarter profit, expects the domestic gas market to remain slow in the fourth quarter, a company official told an analysts’ briefing last week.
Last month, Total natural gas imports, along with liquefied natural gas (LNG) and pipeline, fell to 6.52 million tonnes, the lowest since February 2018, and down from September’s 8.21 million tonnes, customs data confirmed.
The unusual annual drop in October imports was partly caused by a blackout of a key PetroChina-operated import terminal.
Gas imports in the January to October interval reached 77.71 million tonnes, up 7.9% from the same duration in 2018.
Exports for the first 10 months had been 52.75 million tonnes, up 9.3% from the same interval in 2018.