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China October gasoline exports fall 20% on year, diesel shipments up

China's gasoline exports fell 20% in October from a year earlier, data showed on Saturday, as domestic road travel surged during the Golden Week holiday. Gasoline shipments of 770,000 mt were down from last year's 1 MMt and below September's 1.09 MMt, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

Domestic road travel received a boost during an extended Golden Week holiday, which ran from the end of September through the first week of October. Trip numbers were up 71.3% from a year earlier and 4.1% higher than in 2019, according to data released by state media outlet Xinhua. Diesel exports remained strong, up 4.4% in October from a year earlier to 1.1 MMt, as a worsening slump in property construction continued to suppress domestic demand.

Exports of diesel, which account for the biggest share of refinery output, eased slightly month-on-month from September's 1.18 MMt. Domestic diesel demand continues to face significant headwinds from China's property slowdown and an uneven recovery in its manufacturing sector. Jet fuel exports stood at 1.53 MMt, up 5.5% from September and up 32% from a year-earlier.

Domestic kerosene demand is benefiting from the domestic travel surge, with domestic flight levels already above pre-COVID levels and expected to step up further. However, international airline capacity in and out of China in October and November this year was around 56% to 57% of the figure in the same months of 2019, before the pandemic halted international travel, according to data from aviation analytics firm OAG.

Fuel provided to international flights is counted as an export in customs statistics. Regional refining margins continued to fall, declining from $6.72/bbl at the start of October to $2.79/bbl at the end of the month. Total refined fuel exports, which includes marine bunker fuel, continued to ease month-on-month in October, customs data previously showed. The data released on Saturday also showed China imported 5.17 MMt of LNG in October, up from a relative low of 4.03 MMt last year.

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