China Oil Imports Rise, Ports Clogged

China Oil Imports Rise, Ports CloggedChina Oil Imports Rise, Ports Clogged

Oil imports by China, the world’s biggest consumer after the US, rebounded amid strong buying by independent refiners that have helped push the country’s crude demand to a record and overwhelmed one of the country’s biggest ports with tanker traffic.

Inbound shipments during April totaled 32.58 million tons, data from the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs showed on Sunday, Bloomberg reported.

That is equivalent to 7.96 million barrels a day, up 3.2% from the previous month and near a record 8.04 million in February. Net oil-product exports fell 10% from March to 1.17 million tons. Crude imports have been driven by smaller refining companies that operate independently of the country’s state-owned energy giants and have been empowered in the past year to import their own supplies.

Increased purchases by these processors, known as teapots, caused a backlog of tankers last month at the port of Qingdao, near where many of them operate in Shandong Province. Imports through the region surged to a record in March and accounted for about 30% of the country’s total.

China’s independent refineries boosted operating rates to a record of 53.02% of capacity as of April 29, according to industry website

Qingdao has been congested this year from “unprecedented” tanker traffic amid rising imports by teapot refiners, according to Liu Jin, general manager of Qingdao Shihua Crude Oil Terminal Company, which operates oil berths at the port.