China's diesel fuel exports more than doubled in September

(Reuters) - China's diesel exports in September surged to their highest in more than a year while aviation fuel shipments were the most in 29 months as refiners rushed to cash in on robust export margins, data showed on Monday.

Exports of diesel fuel last month more than doubled from a year earlier to 1.73 MMt last month, the highest monthly rate since July 2021, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

That was up from 830,000 tons in August and 780,000 tons a year ago. Exports of aviation fuel, including refueling at Chinese airports for airlines plying international routes, jumped by 38.6% from a year earlier to 1.23 MMt last month. This is the highest monthly volume since April 2020, the data showed. Data from air traffic tracking specialist Variflight showed total passenger flight turnover last month, including departures and landings, amounted to 369,536 trips, which was 36.5% lower than August and 42% below September of 2021.

September gasoline exports were 660,000 tons, down 28.3% from a year earlier and also down 41% from August, the data showed. China had maintained broad curbs on fuel exports earlier this year, resulting in total fuel exports in the first nine months of 2022 falling 28% from a year earlier. But in an about-turn in fuel trade policy, Beijing in late September released an additional large batch of 15 MMt of export quotas, including 13.25 MMt for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, with the remainder for marine fuel. The move was seen helping to bolster exports in the coming months and likely through March of 2023.

Data also showed liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports rebounded to 5.9 MMt ahead of the winter heating season, the highest monthly volume since January, though that was 11.6% below the year-ago rate. Year-to-date shipments were also down 20% from the same period in 2021 at 46.51 MMt, with whole-year imports on track to post the first major decline since China began importing the super-chilled fuel in 2006, as COVID restrictions and high global prices blunted Chinese purchases.

Pipeline gas imports last month, on the other hand, rose 9.8% from a year earlier to 4.25 MMt, the data showed. Year-to-date imports rose 10.5% from a year earlier to 34.66 MMt.

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