BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s crude oil imports rose to the second-highest level on record in February, as strong demand from independent “teapot” refiners continues to drive growth.
February’s imports came in at 31.78 million tonnes or 8.286 million barrels per day, up 3.5 percent on a year ago, Chinese customs data showed on Wednesday.
Daily shipments were only behind December’s record 8.57 million bpd, but up on 8.01 million bpd in January.
“Teapots have been the main driver of strong oil imports in January and February. Chinese crude oil buying wrapped up 2016 with a record and the momentum will continue this year as we expect private refiners to keep high run rates,” said Li Yan, an analyst with oil consultancy Zibo Longzhong information Group.
Imports are expected to ease from March when several major plants begin scheduled maintenance.
One of China’s largest refineries, PetroChina’s Dalian refinery, will shut for 45-60 days starting at the end of the first quarter.
China’s refined fuel products exports in February rose to 4.26 million tonnes from 3.04 million tonnes in January, the customs data showed.
Reporting by Meng Meng and Aizhu Chen; Editing by Richard Pullin