* Beijing’s push to replace coal spurs buying
* Fuel exports also climbed in Jan (Adds graphic)
BEIJING, Feb 23 (Reuters) - China’s imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) hit record levels in January, as the world’s most populous nation rushed to shore up supplies ahead of another cold snap and this month’s Lunar New Year celebrations, while fuel exports also jumped.
LNG imports totalled 5.18 million tonnes, compared with the previous record of 5.03 million tonnes set in December and up 51.2 percent from January, 2017, according to data on Friday from China’s General Administration of Customs.
Purchases spiked to cover a surge in demand under Beijing’s push to replace coal with gas for households and factories, prompting companies to pull in cargoes from suppliers as diverse as Nigeria, Angola and Norway.
Imports were affected by the timing of the Lunar New Year, which fell in February this year, rather than January as in 2017.
Meanwhile, China’s January gasoline exports soared by two thirds to 1 million tonnes from a year earlier and were just shy of December’s all-time high of 1.23 million tonnes.
Diesel exports rose a third to 1.28 million tonnes from January last year and were down from 1.99 million tonnes in December. November was a record of 2.026 million.
Kerosene exports were 890,000 tonnes, up 8.4 percent year-on-year.
Refineries have ramped up exports over the past year as they have churned out more fuel to take advantage of decent profit margins and after the government issued generous export quotas as domestic demand growth has slowed.
Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Joseph Radford