By WAYNE MA
BEIJING -- China's crude-oil imports surged to a record high
in July due to healthy demand from refiners, in another sign of
resilience in its economy.
July's record crude imports aligned with other positive
trade data coming out of China. The country's iron-ore imports
also were at a record high in July, due to a spurt of construction demand and inventory
rebuilding. China's overall exports in July beat analysts'
China, the second-largest oil consumer after the US,
imported 26.11 million metric tons, or 6.17 million bpd, of
crude in July, customs authorities said Thursday. This was 20%
more than the same month last year, and up 18% from June,
according to calculations by The Wall Street
Although July's imports were the highest on record, the
numbers should be taken into context with the year so far, said
Kang Wu, an analyst at FGE Energy. China's crude imports in the
first seven months rose just 1.4% from a year earlier, and
compare with a 6.8% rise in full-year 2012.
Mr. Wu said July's record could be attributed to
expectations of a "moderate recovery" in the Chinese economy in
the second half of the year after a disappointing first half.
"If you're at the bottom, the only way to go is up," he said.
China's gross domestic product growth in the second quarter of
2013 slowed to 7.5% from a 7.7% rise in the first quarter.
Jean Zou, an analyst at ICIS C1 Energy, said strong demand
in July from Chinese refiners such as China Petroleum and
Chemical Corp., known as Sinopec, may have contributed to
July's record. Sinopec was expected to process as much as 20.1
million tons of crude in July, up slightly from June, according
to ICIS C1 Energy.
Ms. Zou also pointed to a major issue at China's
second-largest oil field, known as Shengli, which has stopped
supplying crude to a number of Sinopec's refineries due to the
discovery of impurities in late May. The issue, she said, may
have led to an increase in overseas purchases.
The US Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that
China is the leading contributor to projected growth in global oil
consumption over the next few years. The country's demand is
expected to rise by 4.1% to 10.7 million bpd this year, it
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