China, the world’s second-biggest oil consumer, reduced net crude imports to the least in fourth months as a slowing economy and refinery repairs eroded demand.
The country bought 22.21 million metric tons, or 5.4 million barrels a day, more than it exported in April, data published today on the website of the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs show. That’s the lowest level since December.
China’s exports of goods rose less than estimated in April, lowering demand for fuel and petroleum products needed in manufacturing. Refiners are also idling crude-processing plants for seasonal maintenance in the second quarter.
“Domestic demand has been quite weak, and it’s also related to refinery maintenance,” Shi Yan, an analyst at UOB- Kay Hian Ltd., said by telephone from Shanghai.
Imports of crude were 22.26 million tons in April, while exports were 50,000 tons.
China’s state-owned refiners will close the equivalent of 12 percent of the nation’s oil-processing capacity in the second quarter, Shandong-based industry website Oilchem.net reported in January.
April crude purchases averaged $123 per barrel, compared with about $116 in March, according to Bloomberg calculations from customs data. Costs were around $109 in April 2011.
China bought 3.02 million tons of fuel, including gasoline and diesel, and exported 1.66 million tons last month, according to today’s data. Net imports of fuel were at 1.36 million tons, compared with 1.86 million in March.
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