China's crude oil imports in Oct fall to lowest in three years

China's crude oil imports plunged in October to the lowest since September 2018, as large state-owned refiners withheld purchases because of rising prices while independent refiners were restrained by limited quotas to import.

The world's biggest crude oil importer brought in 37.8 MM tons last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Sunday, equivalent to 8.9 MM barrels per day (bpd).

That is down from 9.99 MMbpd in September and 10.02 MMbpd in the same period last yr.

Over the January-October period, crude arrivals totaled 425.06 MM tons, or 10.21 MMbpd, down 7.2% year-on-year, the customs data showed.

Crude imports were down on a monthly basis for a second mos and the decline has occurred amid a 62% jump in crude oil prices this yr as economies open globally from COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, spurring fuel demand.

Beijing's crackdown on illicit trading in crude oil quotas and import allowances for independent oil refiners also weighed on purchases.

Customs data on Sunday also showed China's refined oil product exports for October fell 31.8% on-year to 3.95 MM tons.

Natural gas imports, including piped and liquefied natural gas (LNG), were 9.38 MM tons in October, up 24.6% from a yr earlier.

Oil imports may be set to rise in November as refiners have vowed to address a shortfall in diesel and gasoline supplies that has pushed fuel prices higher.

Additionally, Beijing has issued 14.89 MM tons of crude oil import quotas for independent refiners for the remaining period of 2021, and China's Zhejiang Petrochemical Corp (ZPC), operator of China's single largest refinery, has separately received a quota of 12 MM tons.

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