In October, Chinese crude imports jumped by 32 per cent over this time last year, hitting 40.80 million tonnes, or 9.61 million barrels per day (b/d).  AP photo.

Chinese crude imports rise as teapot refineries work to meet rising gasoline, diesel demand

Chinese crude imports climbed to a record high last month as independent refineries, known as teapot refiners, increased their oil buys.

According to data from the General Administration of Customs, China’s oil imports have jumped by 32 per cent compared to October 2017, hitting 9.61 million barrels per day (b/d).  In September 2018, imports hit 9.05 million b/d.

During the first 10 months of the year, imports soared 8.1 per cent compared to the same period in 2017 to 9.06 million b/d.

Chinese teapot refineries bought 8.22 million tonnes of crude in October.  Emma Li, analyst at Refinitiv Oil Research and Forecasts told Reuters that  this is the most crude bought by the independent refiners since Beijing began issuing import quotas to them in 2015.

“Independents bought record amounts of crude in October as they ramped up utilization rates to meet pent-up demand for gasoline and diesel,” Li said.

“Many teapots also started stockpiling for January and February next year in a rush to use up their quota this year.”

According to Reuters, China’s overall crude import volumes for last month were in line with Refinitiv Oil Forecast’s expectations of 40.95 million tonnes.

CNOOC began a two-month long turnaround in October at its Huizhou oil plant, one of China’s largest refineries.  Without this shutdown, oil imports could have been higher in October.

Natural gas imports in October by pipeline and LNG also rose in comparison to 2017, climbing 25.6 per cent compared to October 2017.  But, Chinese natural gas imports were down from September 2018.