* Up 3.4 pct on yr, but lowest monthly imports since Jan
* Aug refined fuel exports up 24 pct on year
BEIJING, Sept 8 (Reuters) - China’s crude oil imports rose 3.4 percent in August from the same month a year earlier but slid to their lowest monthly level since January, data showed on Friday, as some independent refiners closed for longer-than-expected maintenance amid a wave of government environmental inspections.
China imported 33.98 million tonnes of crude in August, or 8 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs showed on Friday. That compared with 8.18 million bpd in July.
A string of independent refiners, known as ‘teapots’, in eastern Shandong province carried out planned repair work in the July-August period before the peak demand season in September-October, Shandong-based refinery sources said.
Some were shut longer than planned because of safety problems detected in checks by central government environmental authorities.
Imports for the first eight months combined rose 12.2 percent from the same period a year ago to 281.05 million tonnes, or 8.44 million bpd.
Meanwhile data showed China’s refined fuel exports expanded 24 percent to 4.6 million tonnes in August from a year earlier. Exports were up from 4.55 million tonnes in July, supported by firm export margins.
Refined fuel imports gained 35.1 percent in August versus a year ago at 2.73 million tonnes.
Natural gas imports rose 69.5 percent on year in August at 5.66 million tonnes, a level down from July’s 5.75 million tonnes.
For August trade summary;
tonne=7.3 barrels for crude Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell