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China's fuel oil imports ease for second straight month in August

(Reuters) - China's fuel oil imports retreated for a second consecutive month in August, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Wednesday.

Total fuel oil imports were down 8% from July to 1.4 million metric tons in August, though still more than double compared to the same period last year.

The imports included purchases under ordinary trade, which is subject to import duty and consumption tax, as well as imports into bonded storages.

The decline came amid recovery in China's diluted bitumen imports, after customs authorities eased months-long inspections.

A sharp uptick in Asia's high sulfur fuel oil prices in August also deterred purchases.

China's fuel oil imports started to show signs of easing in July after hitting a decade-high in June, the data showed.

Independent refiners earlier boosted fuel oil purchases to be used as a refinery feedstock this year, particularly discounted barrels of Russian high sulfur fuel oil.

Meanwhile, China's exports of low sulfur marine fuels, measured mostly by sales from bonded storage for vessels plying international routes, totaled 1.55 million tons in August, up 1% from July but down 20% from a year ago.

The table below shows China's fuel oil imports and exports in metric tons. The exports section largely captures China's low sulfur oil bunkering sales along its coast.

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