China crude imports at record high as storage capacity expands

China's crude imports were up to a record high, with a new strategic reserve site becoming operational and refineries preparing to process more oil. Net oil product exports also were up to a near record.

The data released by the General Administration of Customs Thursday showed that the biggest energy user in the world imported 33.06 million metric tons of crude in September amounting to 8.08 million barrels a day.

The country's net fuel exports stood at 2.37 million tons last month, near the record 2.49 million in July.

According to Shanghai-based commodity researcher, ICIS China, China received two crude cargoes last month to help fill the second phase of Zhoushan emergency reserve facility on Aoshan island.

The nation's oil processing in the fourth quarter would rise over 5 per cent from the previous period as refineries resumed operations after seasonal maintenance, it said.

''Strategic stockpiling and higher oil processing going forward certainly helped boost imports last month,'' Amy Sun, an analyst with ICIS China, told Bloomberg. "This trend will likely continue in the next couple of months."

Meanwhile, according to a report by BMI research last week, falling domestic output, increasing storage capacity and a seasonal rise in demand through winter would likely support China's crude imports in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, China's September exports were down 10 per cent from a year earlier, much worse than expected, while imports unexpectedly contracted in August, suggesting signs of steadying in the world's second-largest economy might be short-lived.

The dismal trade figures suggested weaker domestic and overseas demand, and deepening concerns over the latest depreciation in China's yuan currency, which was down to a fresh six-year low against a firming US dollar on Thursday.

"This comes on the heels of weak South Korean trade data, and it definitely make us worry about to what extent global demand is improving," said Luis Kujis, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong, Reuters reported.