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China Nov crude oil imports hit 10-mth high on stock build, new plants

China’s crude oil imports in November rose 12% from a year earlier to their highest in 10 months, data showed on Wednesday, as companies replenished stocks with cheaper oil and as new plants started up.

The world’s largest crude importer brought in 46.74 million tonnes of crude oil last month, equivalent to 11.37 million barrels per day (bpd), according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

That was up from 10.16 million bpd in October and 10.17 million bpd in November 2021.

Chinese state refiners stepped up purchases of U.S. crude oil, taking advantage of arbitrage opportunities, while maintaining high imports of Russian oil ahead of the Dec. 5 European embargo and imposition of an oil price cap.

Independent traders last month also moved a record amount of deeply discounted Iranian crude passed off as oil sourced from Malaysia, Oman or elsewhere, according oil into the refining hub of Shandong province, to tanker tracker Vortexa Analytics.

The higher imports resulted in a crude oil stock build of 41 million barrels over the month, Vortexa estimated.

Also contributing to the rebound was the startup in late October of a 200,000-bpd crude oil unit at PetroChina’s newly built refinery in Guangdong, while private refiner Shenghong Petrochemical said in mid-November that it shipped out its first batch of refined products.

Imports for the first 11 months of the year totalled 460.26 million tonnes, or about 10.06 bpd, down 1.4% from the corresponding period last year.

Wednesday’s data also showed fuel exports reached 6.144 million tonnes, the highest since June 2021 and up from 4.456 million tonnes in October, reflecting Beijing’s additional release of quotas.

Year-to-date exports, at 46 million tonnes, remained 19% below year-ago levels due to a broad curb on fuel exports earlier in the year.

Natural gas imports last month via pipelines and as liquefied natural gas (LNG) reached a 10-month high of 10.32 million tonnes, as northern China entered its second month of winter heating.

Year-to-date imports were 9.7% below a year ago at 99 million tonnes, with annual imports of LNG set for their first major decline since 2006 as demand was crimped by surging global prices and a stagnant economy hobbled by strict COVID-related restrictions.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Clarence FernandezAnd Edmund Klamann)

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