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China’s 2019 gasoline exports surge 27% amid refining boom

China’s gasoline exports surged nearly a third in 2019, data showed on Thursday, setting a seventh straight annual record as a boom in new refineries chimed with a slump in vehicle sales to produce a domestic fuel surplus ripe for shipment elsewhere.

Exports of gasoline from China, the world’s biggest oil importer and second-largest consumer, climbed to 16.37 million tonnes last year, up 27% from 2018, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

For the month of December, exports reached 1.73 million tonnes, up 36% from the same month a year earlier, data showed.

The increase in fuel exports follows a rapid growth of refining capacity in China, with 28.5 million tonnes per annual new capacity added in 2019. That additional capacity pushed China’s refinery runs to a record 13.04 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Jan. 17.

For 2019, diesel exports also rose to a record of 21.98 million tonnes, up 15% from a year earlier. In December, shipments climbed to 1.63 million tonnes, up 4% from the same month a year earlier but down 26% from November.

Amid China’s slowdown in economic growth, analysts from the research arm of state firm China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) expect domestic gasoline and diesel demand will remain under pressure in 2020, as China is forecast to add 27 million tonnes of new refining capacity.

“To balance supply and demand in domestic market, we expect at least 64.5 million tonnes of fuel will be exported in 2020,” said Zhang Diqiu, an oil analyst at CNPC’s research body, said in a note before Thursday’s data was released.

Meanwhile the customs data also showed that imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) also set fresh records in both 2019 and December.

LNG arrivals last month were at 6.46 million tonnes, up 3.6% on year. For the full year, imports of the fuel reached 60.25 million tonnes.

China overtook Japan as the world’s top LNG importer in November and December on a monthly basis, but on an annual basis Japan is still the No.1 LNG importer worldwide.

Below is the latest customs data on fuel exports in millions of tonnes and imports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, in millions of tonnes.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Shivani Singh; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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