China imported a new record volume of crude oil in September, pushing it ahead of the US as the world’s biggest crude importer for the third time this year.
China’s import figure jumped by 18% compared to the same month in 2015, bringing an average of 8.04 million barrels a day into the country, customs data showed. That compared to US imports of 7.98 million barrels a day in September.
Meanwhile, China also recorded higher refined fuel exports last month that were just shy of its record number set in July. In September it shipped 4.3 million tonnes, an increase of 21.1% year-on-year. Refined fuel exports stood at 4.57 million tonnes in July and 3.7 million tonnes in August.
China has been increasing its crude oil storage capacity with new tanks that are capable of holding 19 million barrels – the equivalent of three days’ imports. The country is now coming to the end of its annual refinery maintenance period, so it is likely that October’s imports will be down on September’s, allowing the US to move back into the position of number one crude importer.
The US is still ahead of China based on how much crude oil has been imported so far in 2016, importing an average of 8 billion barrels-plus a day.
However, China is expected to continue high volume imports for rest of the year, BMI researchers said, due to the higher demand over the winter, its newly increased storage facilities and falling production.