China’s crude oil imports rose nearly 7% this April in comparison to the same month last year, Reuters reported.
This came as the first increase in three months, though fuel demand has weakened due to COVID-19 lockdowns that have dampened refinery throughput.
According to data released on Monday by the General Administration of Customs, the top crude oil buyer imported 43.03 million tonnes last month, or 10.5 million barrels per day (mmbbl/d).
This compares to 9.82 mmbbl/d in April 2021 and 10.06 mmbbl/d in March.
The volume of imports for January-April dropped by 4.8%, or about 10.4 mmbbl/d, compared with the same period last year.
According to estimates, refinery throughput fell about 6% last month, Chinese refiner Sinopec Corp (600028.SS) said it has reduced operational rates to around 85% of capacity from 92.6% in the second half of the year after inventories rose amid COVID-19 curbs.
In spite of weakening domestic fuel demand, refiners rushed to reduce bulging stock levels to boost exports. Companies had earlier been urged to halt overseas sales in April.
As a result of a government policy to curtail excessive refinery production at home, fuel exports in the first four months dropped 38% on year.
Last month, natural gas imports decreased from 10.15 million tonnes in April last year to 8.09 million tonnes. From January to April, imports were down 8.9% on the year to 35.87 million tonnes.
LNG imports last month were 4.7 million tonnes versus 4.63 million tonnes in March, far below the 6.73 million tonnes a year earlier, as hefty spot prices continued to hamper buying.