China's November crude imports rebound as refiners clear backlog

SINGAPORE, Dec 7 (Reuters) - China's imports of crude oil rebounded in November from the previous month's lows, but were still about 8% below the levels of a year earlier, customs data showed on Tuesday, as fresh quotas let refiners bring in imports held in anchored vessels.

November arrivals were 41.79 million tonnes, or 10.17 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

That was higher than October's figure of 8.9 million bpd, but lower than 11.04 million bpd in November 2020.

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Crude arrivals from January to November of 466.84 million tonnes, or 10.2 million bpd, were down 7.3% on the year, the data showed.

Importers, such as large private refiner Zhejiang Petrochemical Corp, boosted November imports significantly after getting fresh permits, moving in some shipments bought earlier and waiting at anchorage off Zhoushan for discharge.

"Refiners utilised the last batch of quotas by moving in fresh cargoes as well as clearing backlogs of vessels waiting near the ports," said Emma Li, analyst with Vortexa Analytics.

But imports into the world's top crude buyer for the year to date were lower, as inflows for smaller independent refiners were subdued after Beijing cut their import quotas and stepped up tax scrutiny in a bid to remove excess refining capacity. read more

Tuesday's data also showed China's refined fuel exports rose to 4.19 million tonnes last month from 3.95 million in October, but stood below 4.95 million tonnes a year earlier.

Natural gas imports, including piped gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG), rose about 17% on year to 10.73 million tonnes, the highest monthly amount since January which traders attributed to increases in piped gas supplies from including Russia.

Imports for the first 11 months rose nearly 22% on year.

In a counter-seasonal move when LNG imports typically rise to meet winter heating demand, Chinese buyers pared back purchases of spot LNG last month due to high global prices and ample domestic stocks. read more

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Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Stephen Coates

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