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HomeLatestChina's April Crude Oil Imports Surge by 5.45% Compared to Previous Year
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China’s April Crude Oil Imports Surge by 5.45% Compared to Previous Year

China witnessed a notable increase in crude oil imports in April compared to the same period last year, as refiners geared up for a fully recovered Labour Day holiday travel season, according to official data released on Thursday.

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Data from the General Administration of Customs revealed that crude imports in April reached 44.72 million metric tons, equivalent to approximately 10.88 million barrels per day (bpd). This marks a 5.45% rise from the comparatively lower 10.4 million bpd imported in April 2023.

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During the five-day Labour Day holiday that commenced on May 1, China recorded over 1.3 billion passenger trips, reflecting a 2.1% increase from the previous year, as reported by state media outlet Xinhua. Notably, highway traffic saw a 2.1% uptick, while air travel surged by 8.1%.

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Data from consultancy OAG indicated that domestic airline seat capacity in April rose by 1.3% compared to the previous year.

However, China’s manufacturing sector continued to witness a subdued recovery in April, with imports slowing by 5.8% from March’s level of 11.55 million bpd.

Analyst Lin Ye from Rystad Energy in Beijing commented, “China’s crude buying slowed down on strengthened crude oil prices and weakened domestic diesel demand.” Ye added, “China’s crude demand is expected to be supported by a larger export quota this year and new refinery start-ups later this year.

Ahead of the data release, Chinese consultancy JLC forecasted a 4.6% decrease in sea-borne oil shipments in April compared to March, attributing the decline to tight profit margins and the onset of maintenance season.

While maintenance at state-owned refineries is projected to peak in the second quarter, data cited by China commodities consultancy MySteel indicates a 24% decrease in capacity shutdown for maintenance at these refineries compared to last year.

In addition to the surge in crude oil imports, natural gas imports for April surged by 14.7% compared to the previous year, reaching 10.30 million tons, as per customs data.

Meanwhile, prices of LNG for Asia at the end of April saw an 11.3% decline compared to the same period last year, and a significant 43% decrease from last year’s peak in October.

Customs data also revealed a 21.46% increase in exports of refined oil products, including diesel, gasoline, aviation fuel, and marine fuel, compared to the previous year, totaling 4.55 million tons.

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