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Chinese October Crude Imports Drop, 2018 Non-State Crude Import Quotas Rise

Oil

Chinese crude oil imports in October stood at 7.337M b/d, up by 7.8% or 0.53M b/d from the same month a year earlier but well below September’s near record of 9.043M b/d by 18.8% or 1.706M b/d, and the lowest monthly level since October 2016, according to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs released on Wednesday.

Lower imports in October came as a surprise, since historically crude demand picks up in the 4th quarter and refining rates are strong. However Chinese independent refineries made less purchases last month as many of them are running out of crude quota for this year according to Reuters. Quotas for independent refineries were cut by 17% in 2017 versus 2016 because these refiners underused the earlier permits.

Meanwhile, China’s Commerce Ministry set its 2018 crude oil import quota for non-state companies at 142.2M tonnes, a yearly increase of more than 50%, in an attempt to mitigate this year’s setback. The higher quotas should boost imports of ESPO crude which loads from Russia’s Far East and crude from Angola, which are traditionally favourite supply sources for the independent refiners who have also been drawing barrels from the Americas and the Middle East, Reuters reports.