China records crude imports drop over 4. 6%, net fuel exports fall by 76% month-on-month in January and gross fuel exports decline by 30% month-on-month, informed Bloomberg citing calculations based on General Administration of Customs. China’s net oil products exports tumbled to a seven-month low amid speculation refiners chose to sell more fuel at home due to cold weather and growing demand, as well as after the government decided to stop lowering fuel prices when crude traded below $40 a barrel, analysts at Citigroup Inc. said.

Previously, China had awarded more than 1.8mb/d of export quotas to four independent refiners, known as teapots, in Q1, double as much as in the same period in 2015. Utilizing the designated quotas in the next couple of months will likely help to rebound exports, Barclays Plc’s analytical report indicated.

As state refiners slowed operations amid swelling stockpiles of fuel, the world’s largest energy consumer in January cut imports by 4.6% to about 6.3mb/d, according to the same set of data cited by Bloomberg in a related report. Refining rates could slow further as China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. plans to lower its oil-processing target by 1.2% this year due to competition from independent refiners, Oil and Gas 360 informed.

The country’s total exports declined 11.2% in January from a year earlier, while overall imports tumbled 18.8%, adding to economic challenges confronting the world’s biggest trading nation.