China Apr Oil Imports Fall 0.2 yy, Refining Margins Narrow

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BEIJINGSINGAPORE, May 7 Reuters Chinas crude oil imports in April fell 0.2 from a year earlier as refiners curbed production to relieve a squeeze in profit margins brought about by rising crude oil prices and bulging inventories.

The worlds biggest crude oil buyer brought in 40.36 million tonnes of crude oil in April, or 9.82 million barrels per day bpd, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Friday.

That was the lowest since December and was down from 11.69 million bpd of imports in March.

As crude oil prices hovered above 60 a barrel, versus historic lows a year earlier, refiners in particular small, independent plants faced shrinking margins as overall fuel supplies swelled due to increased operations at larger, more efficient private refiners.

Margins were also hurt as traders brought in a record amount of light cycle oil LCO, a blending fuel for making diesel, pushing stocks of diesel to multiyear highs. LCO inflows are expected to slow due authorities clampdown on illicit trading of the fuel.

However, analysts said robust domestic fuel demand and reviving refining margins in recent weeks are likely to prompt some refiners to shorten maintenance periods, bolstering crude trade in coming months.

We expect imports over MayJune to be higher than what the market previously anticipated. Crude imports should rise to 11.011.5 million bpd levels in AugustSeptember, with the ramp up of new refining capacities, said Chen Jiyao, head of China client…

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