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China Net Gasoline Exports Remain Near Year High as Demand Slows

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- China’s net exports of gasoline remained near the highest level in a year amid the nation’s weakest domestic oil demand in eight months.

Overseas sales of gasoline exceeded imports by 468,553 metric tons in April, according to data e-mailed by the General Administration of Customs in Beijing today. That’s equivalent to 132,360 barrels a day. In March, net gasoline exports were 506,110 tons, the most in a year.

Fuel consumption in China, which uses more oil than any country except the U.S., has declined as its economic expansion slowed. Apparent oil demand, or domestic refinery throughput plus net imports, was 9.66 million barrels a day last month, the weakest since August, customs data showed May 13. Gross domestic product increased 7.7 percent in the first quarter, compared with 7.9 percent in the three months ended December.

“April’s fuel supply has a reasonable surplus because of sluggish domestic demand,” Jean Zou, an oil analyst at ICIS C1 Energy, a commodities researcher, said by phone from Guangzhou. “Gasoline exports in May will advance from April’s level.”

Gasoline demand will increase 12 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier to 22.93 million tons, China Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals reported May 1. The newsletter, published by the official Xinhua News agency, cited research by China National Petroleum Corp., the country’s largest oil company.

Diesel Sales

China’s net diesel exports were 289,013 tons in April, or about 72,400 barrels a day, today’s data show. That’s a 27 percent drop from March, when it was at the highest level since July 2010.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest oil refiner, known as Sinopec, will cut overseas sales of diesel by as much as 90 percent in May compared with the average in the first quarter, according to ICIS C1. The Guangzhou and Maoming refineries will be the only plants to export diesel this month, the Shanghai-based commodities researcher said on its website on May 16.

China’s fuel oil imports rose 6.5 percent from a year earlier to 2.37 million tons in April, today’s customs data show. Purchases rebounded from 2.06 million tons in March, an eight-month low.

Russia was the largest fuel oil supplier to China last month and shipped 835,536 tons of the residual product, up 15 percent from last year, according to the data. Venezuela was the second-biggest with 405,389 tons and Singapore ranked in third place with 289,564 tons.

China imported 1.56 million tons of liquefied natural gas in April, up 48 percent from the same period last year, the data show. The nation’s coal imports, including lignite, climbed 15 percent to 28.7 million tons last month.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at akwiatkowsk2@bloomberg.net

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