March 24, 2020 / 12:59 AM / 6 days ago

China's Jan-Feb gasoline exports surge 32% as virus dents domestic demand

    BEIJING/SINGAPORE, March 24 (Reuters) - China's gasoline
exports surged 31.5% over the first two months of 2020 as the
coronavirus outbreak disrupted production and travel, denting
demand for fuels within the country.
    Gasoline shipments jumped in January and February jumped
from the same period a year ago to 2.72 million tonnes, data
from the General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday.
    Diesel exports rose 3.5% to 3.47 million tonnes. 
    Customs did not release separate data for January and
February.
    The outbreak of the flu-like epidemic, which originated in
the central Chinese city of Wuhan and infected more than 80,000
people across mainland China, prompted authorities to impose
travel restrictions and to extend the Lunar New Year holiday to
rein in its spread.
    Oil refineries lowered throughput levels to reduce the
impact of tepid demand, but China's refined oil inventory still
reached a record high in February.
    China National Petroleum Corp's (CNPC) research institute
has estimated refined oil product demand will fall 35.7% in the
first quarter compared to a year ago, leading to a surplus of
27.08 million tonnes in the local market.
    CNPC, Asia's top oil and gas firm, said its refined oil
sales in February fell 45% year-on-year.
    "In order to digest the inventory, (CNPC) increased refined
oil exports and saw the exports level hit a record high in
February even though the Guangxi refinery, a major exporter in
the group, was under overhaul," CNPC said in a statement last
week.
    China's jet kerosene exports jumped 21.1% to 2.93 million
tonnes in the first two months, customes data showed.
    China's total aviation fuel sales plunged 64% in February
from a year earlier to 860,000 tonnes, according to a person
with direct knowledge of the matter, as flights were cancelled
worldwide.
    China-based consultancy JLC expects refined oil exports in
April to reach 5.29 million tonnes, down 0.6% on year, with
gasoline exports up 38.8% and diesel exports down 16.6%.
    The customs data also showed that imports of liquefied
natural gas rose 2.3% to 11.13 million tonnes over January and
February.
    CNPC's listed arm PetroChina had suspended some natural gas
imports as a seasonal plunge in demand adds to the impact on
consumption from the coronavirus outbreak.
    Below is the latest customs data on fuel exports in millions
of tonnes and imports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, in
millions of tonnes. 
    
 Exports                 
 Products     Jan-Feb       y/y%
                           change
 Gasoline       2.72        31.5
 Diesel         3.47        3.5
 Jet fuel       2.93        21.1
 Imports                      
 LNG           11.13        2.3
    
    

 (Reporting by Muyu Xu in Beijing and Chen Aizhu in Singapore;
Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Richard Pullin)
  
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