China crude imports fall to 6-month low as teapot demand slows


BEIJING (Bloomberg) -- China’s crude imports fell to the lowest level in six months as demand from independent refineries eased. Net fuel exports surged to a record.

The world’s biggest energy user imported 31.07 million metric tons of crude in July, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs on Monday. That’s about 7.35 MMbpd, the slowest pace since January. Meanwhile, net fuel exports jumped to 2.49 million tons last month.

The nation’s appetite for overseas crude, which increased 14% in the first half year from the same period of 2015, may be weaker in the near term as insufficient infrastructure and scheduled maintenance at some independent refiners will likely hinder their crude purchases, BMI Research said in a report dated Aug. 4.

“Teapots’ crude buying has slowed in the third quarter amid maintenance,” Amy Sun, an analyst with ICIS China, said before data were released. "Some plants have also seen their crude-import quotas filling up."

The country’s total imports in July dropped 12.5% in U.S. dollars, raising concern that domestic conditions may be weakening anew, while exports remained sluggish, falling 4.4% in dollar terms.

China’s coal imports fell 2.5% from the previous month to 21.21 million tons, Monday’s data showed. Domestic prices climbed to the highest level in 16 months after production cuts tightened supplies, according to data from the China Coal Transport and Distribution Association.

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