China's Jan-Feb gasoline exports jump 30% year-on-year

FILE PHOTO: Oil and gas tanks are seen at an oil warehouse at a port in Zhuhai, China October 22, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s gasoline exports rose 30.1% year-on-year in the first two months of 2021, customs data showed on Thursday, as refineries sought to ease domestic inventory pressure due to high output.

Gasoline shipments in January and February were at 3.54 million tonnes, up from 2.72 million tonnes in the same period last year, after the coronavirus outbreak and tough travel restrictions slammed fuel consumption in the country.

Diesel exports fell 0.9% on year to 3.44 million tonnes, according to data issued by the General Administration of Customs. Jet fuel exports totalled 880,000 tonnes, down 70.1% from 2.93 million tonnes a year earlier.

China’s fuel demand was curbed over the long Lunar New Year holiday by travel restrictions imposed to contain new coronavirus outbreaks.

The coronavirus measures were not expected to derail a broader post-pandemic demand recovery. But near-record refinery output has led to increased product inventories.

Data compiled by China-based Longzhong consultancy showed that gasoline commercial stocks reached 18.19 million tonnes as of Friday, similar to the same time last year, but higher than the pre-pandemic level of 14.21 million tonnes at the end of 2019.

The central government’s first batch of 2021 fuel export quotas totalled 29.5 million tonnes, up 5.4% compared with 2020, in response to expanding refining capacity.

Analysts had expected refineries to raise fuel exports in March to reduce inventory pressure and to cash in on recovering demand elsewhere in Asian.

Customs data also showed that China’s imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) jumped 27.2% to 14.04 million tonnes over January and February.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Dominique Patton; Editing by David Goodman and Amy Caren Daniel