SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s crude oil imports in October rose 11.5% from a year earlier to a record high, customs data showed, as new refineries bolstered demand and small independent plants maintained throughput amid steady refining margins.
However, natural gas imports last month fell 10.6% from a year earlier, its first decline since November 2016, according to Reuters’ records of customs data.
China, the world’s top oil importer, brought in 45.51 million tonnes of crude last month, equivalent to 10.72 million barrels per day (bpd), according to data released by the General Administration of Customs.
That compared to 10.04 million bpd in September.
Imports during the first 10 months of the year reached 414.55 million tonnes, or 9.95 million bpd, 10.5% higher than the year earlier period.
"Strong refining margins in August prompted both national oil companies and the independents to ramp their crude purchases, which mostly were reflected in October data,” said Joey Chen, an oil consultant at FGE.
But, Chinese refiners have had a tough year because of fierce competition in the domestic fuel market as demand fell in tandem with a moderating economy.
Top Asian refiner Sinopec Corp reported last week its third-quarter earnings dropped 35% versus a year ago partly due to narrowing refining profits.