China cuts oil imports & ramps up purchases of natural gas

The world’s top oil importer, China, has reduced its crude imports by 5.7% since the start of 2021, but boosted natural gas purchases by over 20%, a report from the country’s State Statistical Office says.

From January to August, China imported 346.36 million tons of oil, which is 5.7% less than in the same period last year. At the same time, the country increased the volume of natural gas imports by 22.2%, to 79.31 million tons.

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As specified in the document, in August alone, China purchased 44.53 million tons of crude (down 6.2% year on year) and 10.44 million tons of gas (up 11.5%).

Meanwhile, domestic oil production over the past eight months increased by 2.4%, amounting to 133.22 million tons. Domestic refining was also up by 7.4% to 470.79 million tons.

According to the report, China’s energy companies produced 136.1 billion cubic meters of gas in the reporting period (an increase of 10.8%). Over the past month alone, the country’s gas production increase amounted to 15.9 billion cubic meters, which is 15.5% higher than before the pandemic in August 2019.

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Previously, China’s crude oil imports rebounded in July from a six-month low after state-backed refiners set out to increase output after returning from maintenance. However, independent refineries slowed their restocking due to official probes into trading and taxes.

Beijing has been carrying out investigations since April regarding illegal trading of import quotas, in part to lower a fuel surplus that has been hard on state-owned refiners’ profits.

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