China's Diesel Exports Surge to Record Amid Oil Rally

  • China shipped 1.25 million metric tons of diesel last month
  • Shipments advance amid rising export margin, stockpiles: ICIS

China’s diesel exports advanced a second month to the highest on record as rising oil prices encouraged refiners to ship excess fuel overseas.

The world’s largest energy consumer exported 1.25 million metric tons of the fuel last month, the most in records going back to 2003, data from the General Administration of Customs website showed on Thursday. Shipments of gasoline and kerosene also rose to the highest in three months.

A wave of exports from the country slowed earlier this year as the government’s decision not to cut retail prices when oil falls below $40 a barrel made domestic sales more profitable, according to ICIS China, a Shanghai-based commodity consultant. Since then, Brent oil, the international benchmark, has surged more than 60 percent from a 12-year low in January.

“Improved margin for selling diesel overseas certainly boosts exports,” Lin Jiaxin, an analyst at ICIS China, said before data were released. “Refiners are in a rush to lower their high stockpiles amid still quite sluggish local demand.”

The nation’s diesel stockpiles expanded 38 percent in February to the highest since April 2012, according to Bloomberg calculations based on Xinhua News Agency’s China Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals newsletter. Consumption of the fuel, a barometer of industrial activity, fell 9.2 percent in February from a year ago, compared to a 9.3 percent increase for gasoline, according to data from the National Development and Reform Commission.

“China’s February diesel inventories rose higher than expected, boosting March exports,” Nevyn Nah, a Singapore-based analyst with Energy Aspects Ltd., said by e-mail. “Export margins have also improved.”

Shipments to Singapore accounted for 242,000 tons, or about 19 percent of the total. The city-state was followed by the Philippines with 216,000 tons and Malaysia with 173,000 tons. Kerosene exports rose to 1.03 million tons and gasoline shipments rose to 670,000 tons, both the highest since December.

— With assistance by Jing Yang

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