November 8, 2018 / 4:54 AM / 10 months ago

China October crude imports rise to all-time high on record teapot buying

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s crude oil imports rose to all-time high on a daily basis in October, supported by record demand from private refiners and healthy margins, customs data showed Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A worker walks past oil pipes at a refinery in Wuhan, Hubei province March 23, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

Imports in October surged 32 percent from a year earlier to 40.80 million tonnes, or 9.61 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the General Administration of Customs showed, climbing from 9.05 million bpd in September. The previous daily record of 9.60 million bpd was touched in April 2018.

The imports rose 8.1 percent for the first 10 months of the year from the same period last year to 377.16 million tonnes, or 9.06 million bpd, on track for another record year of shipments.

The record volumes were a result of strong imports from China’s private refiners, often known as “teapots”.

These oil processors bought 8.22 million tonnes of crude during the month, the highest monthly amount ever since Beijing began issuing import quotas to them in 2015, according to Emma Li, an analyst with Refinitiv Oil Research and Forecasts.

“Independents bought record amounts of crude in October as they ramped up utilization rates to meet pent-up demand for gasoline and diesel,” Li said.

“Many teapots also started stockpiling for January and February next year in a rush to use up their quota this year.”

China’s overall import volumes for October were in line with Refinitiv Oil Forecast’s expectations of 40.95 million tonnes.

The imports might have been higher except CNOOC Ltd’s Huizhou oil plant started a two-month long turnaround in October, curbing purchases from one of China’s largest refineries.

Total natural gas imports in October via both pipeline and as liquefied natural gas (LNG) were at 7.3 million tonnes, up 25.6 percent from the same month last year, but easing from 7.62 million tonnes in September.

Reporting by Meng Meng and Aizhu Chen; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Tom Hogue

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