China Oil Imports Rise to Record as Refiners Stock Before Summit

(Bloomberg) -- China bought record volumes of crude last month as some refiners made purchases anticipating disruptions to being able to transport oil during an international summit next month.

The world’s biggest oil buyer imported 9.64 million barrels a day in April, according to data released by Beijing-based General Administration of Customs on Tuesday. That’s about 4 percent higher than March and beat a previous record of 9.61 million barrels per day reached in January. For the month of April, total purchases were 39.46 million metric tons.

China Oil Imports Rise to Record as Refiners Stock Before Summit

“Refiners, especially teapots, are restocking ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting when road transport of hazardous petrochemical products will be presumably curbed,” affecting both crude and oil products, Jean Zou, an analyst with commodities researcher ICIS-China, said by phone. The summit is due to be held in June in Qingdao, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Many independent refiners, known as teapots, use trucks to take crude oil to their refineries from ports, she said.

Major processors across the nation also increased imports as they sought to build stockpiles before peak maintenance season in the second quarter and as demand is likely to increase during summer, Michal Meidan, an analyst with London-based Energy Aspects, said before the data release.

China’s net exports of oil products fell 46 percent from a March record of 3.94 million tons to 2.11 million tons last month, according to the customs data.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Sarah Chen in Beijing at schen514@bloomberg.net.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

With assistance from Sarah Chen