BEIJING, Dec 8 (Reuters) - China’s imports of crude oil hit a fresh monthly high in November, customs data showed on Saturday, beating the record set in October on heavy buying from private refiners and trial starts of new mega-refineries.
Crude oil arrivals last month rose 8.5 percent compared with the same month a year ago to 10.43 million barrels per day (bpd), marking the first time China imported more than 10 million bpd. October’s imports were 9.61 million bpd.
For the first 11 months, China imported 418.11 million tonnes of foreign crude oil, or 9.17 million bpd, putting it on track to make this year a record high for imports.
Strong demand is being driven in part by new refineries, such as the 400,000 bpd project operated by major private firm Hengli in northeastern port Dalian that planned test runs last month.
Zhejiang Petrochemical Corp is also planning trial runs at some refining units at its 400,000 bpd facility off the archipelago city of Zhoushan at the end of this year, and imported several cargoes of Oman crude in the fourth quarter.
The private refiners, known as “teapots”, bought 8.57 million tonnes of crude in November, or 1.94 million bpd, according to Refinitiv Oil Research and Forecast.
Zhejiang Petrochemicals received two VLCCs of crude in November while Dalian Hengli received 540,000 tonnes of Arab crude in November, Refinitiv analyst Emma Li wrote in a note on Dec. 5.
Meanwhile China’s total natural gas imports rose 25.6 percent year on year to 9.15 million tonnes in November, also a record monthly number, as China’s energy majors boosted imports to meet demand from the second year of a government campaign to switch to cleaner fuels for winter heating.
For the first 11 months, gas imports stood at 81.19 million tonnes, up 33.8 percent from last year.
Reporting by Meng Meng and Dominique Patton; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore