CHINA'S OIL IMPORTS UP
China's crude oil imports in February rose 20.2 percent on a daily basis compared to same month last year, reaching a new record, official customs data showed on Tuesday.
February's imports also jumped 19.1 percent on the previous month to hit 31.80 million tonnes, or 8.0 million barrels per day (bpd) C-CNIMP-PRM.
"Higher teapot demand and stronger refining margins which encouraged higher refinery throughputs have contributed to increased imports," said Virendra Chauhan, oil analyst at Energy Aspects in Singapore.
"Falling domestic crude production is also supportive."
China's imports reached a previous record of 7.81 million bpd in December, closing out 2015 with an average 6.71 million bpd - a figure well above China's still growing demand for oil.
China took advantage of low global oil prices last year to add up to 185 million barrels to its reserves, Reuters calculations show, while oil demand - refinery throughput plus net imports of oil products - grew 3.1 percent.
Commodity analyst ICIS said last week it expected China's crude oil imports to rise 6.2 percent in 2016, and apparent oil demand to grow 3.2 percent.
Yao Li, chief executive of Beijing-based consultancy SIA Energy, said last week that China is expected to import 860,000 bpd more crude this year, with fuel exports rising by 330,000 bpd.
The February volumes were more than a million bpd higher than an earlier estimate by Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts. March imports are forecast at under 7 million bpd.
Fuel exports in February rose 71.8 percent on a daily basis compared to the same month last year, reaching 2.99 million tonnes, or 721,700 bpd, after hitting a record 975,500 bpd in December, as China continues to export more diesel amid weakening domestic demand for the industrial fuel.
Net fuel exports were 350,000 tonnes in February C-FUEXP-PRM.
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