China Crude Imports Rise to Eight-Month High on Refining

China’s crude oil imports rose to the highest level in eight months in January as refineries boosted runs amid signs of an economic recovery.

China bought 24.87 million metric tons of crude more than it exported last month, according to figures released on the website of the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs today. That’s equivalent to 5.88 million barrels a day, the most since May, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The nation’s exports of all goods increased 25 percent from a year earlier, beating the 17.5 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of economists, the customs data also showed. China’s major refineries raised their average utilization rate by 0.48 percentage points to 87.23 percent as of Jan. 31 from two weeks earlier, reported Feb. 1. The rate will probably remain in a range of 86 percent to 88 percent this month, Oilchem said.

“Refineries are running at high processing rates, boosting demand for crude,” Gong Jinshuang, a Beijing-based senior engineer at China National Petroleum Corp., the nation’s biggest oil company, said by phone today. “Meanwhile, crude stockpiles are rather low.”

China’s commercial crude inventories dropped 3.6 percent at the end of December from a month earlier, Xinhua’s China Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals newsletter reported Jan. 21. That means crude supplies, excluding emergency reserves, shrank to 29.15 million tons, the lowest level since March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The nation’s crude imports last month rose 7.4 percent from a year ago to 25.15 million tons, today’s data show. That’s up 6.3 percent from December. Overseas sales slid 10 percent from a year ago to 280,000 tons. China remained a net importer of refined products with 3.91 million tons of purchases and 2.43 million tons of exports.

— With assistance by Jing Yang

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