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China's March diesel, jet fuel exports surge; gasoline down 34%

(Reuters) - China's diesel exports shipments surged to 1.44 million tons, up 113.8% in March, from 0.67 million tons a year ago, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday.

Jet fuel exports rose to 1.12 million tons, up dramatically from 0.77 million tons in the same period last year.

However, the country's gasoline exports fell to 0.76 million tons from 1.16 million tons last year, the data showed.

Total diesel exports for the first quarter were up more than 450% on the same period last year, following dramatically increased shipments over the January to February period.

Beijing issued 18.99 million tons of export quotas for refined fuel in the first batch of its 2023 allocation, up 46% from the corresponding 2022 allotment, as it aimed to ramp up refinery output and hoped to capture stronger export margins.

Discounts on crude imported from Russia have improved margins for Chinese refiners, helping to stimulate their export sector as China sells fuel that other refiners steer away from.

The slowdown in China's property and construction sectors has reduced domestic demand for diesel, leading refiners to shift their inventories overseas.

Demand for kerosene in Asia has picked up sharply as governments, most notably China, have rolled back travel restrictions as the pandemic recedes.

China's domestic aviation market has seen a strong uptick, while the resumption of international flights has also pushed up demand for refueling airplanes at Chinese airports. Such fuel sales are counted as exports.

Though road traffic levels have dropped since their spike around the Chinese New Year period, resurgent domestic demand for gasoline following the ending of COVID restrictions led exports to fall.

Customs data also showed that China's imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in March rose 16.9% to 5.36 million tons.

Total imports for Q1 stood at 16.43 million tons, down from 17.28 million tons in the same period last year.

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