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New refinery lifts China crude imports to record

05.08.2014  | 

Imports rose as Sinochem Group’s Quanzhou refinery in southeast China ramps up processing after starting commercial operations last month. The plant has 241,000 bpd of capacity.



China, which uses more oil than any country except the US, raised daily crude imports to a record in April as a new refinery and stockpiling bolstered demand.

Overseas purchases increased to 27.88 million metric tons, according to data released Thursday by the General Administration of Customs in Beijing. That’s about 6.81 million bpd, up from the previous record of 6.66 million in January.

“China imported more crude probably to fill inventory and meet demand that will rebound in June following the maintenance season,” Amy Sun, an analyst with ICIS-C1 Energy, said by phone from Guangzhou.

Some of the overseas crude will go to refilling commercial inventories, Sun said. Stockpiles fell about 3% at the end of March from a month earlier, according to China Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals, published by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Imports also rose as Sinochem Group’s Quanzhou refinery in southeast China ramps up processing after starting commercial operations last month, Sun said. The plant should run at about 90% of its 241,000-bpd capacity by June, up from 70% now, according to Sun.

April’s record buying is also to fill the country’s strategic petroleum reserves, according to Sijin Cheng, a commodities analyst at Barclays. China will add 39 million bbl to emergency stockpile sites at Tianjin and Huangdao during the first half of this year, Cheng said in a note to clients.

The nation returned to a net oil product importer in April with 2.54 million tons of imports and 2.2 million tons of exports, the data show. Coal purchases were at 27.11 million tons and No. 5-7 fuel oil imports at 1.67 million tons.

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