China saw its crude oil imports in January reach 10.07 million barrels per day, up 5.1 percent year-on-year, figures from the General Administration of Customs showed last week. This was the third time China's monthly crude imports breached 10 million barrels per day, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.
While crude imports in January, totaling 42.59 million metric tons, are down 2.7 percent from the 43.78 million mt in December, analysts believe the figure is at an elevated level as refineries built up stockpiles ahead of the Spring Festival holiday in early February.
The total 42.59 million tons of oil works out to 10.07 million barrels per day.
"It's the fourth consecutive month that the country's crude imports exceeded 40 million mt," said Li Li, research director at energy consulting company ICIS China.
It is expected that crude imports in March will remain at a high level.
On the other hand, China's independent refineries, better known as teapots, had also ramped up efforts to use up their crude oil import quota by the end of last year, which in turn led to the year-on-year growth in crude imports.
According to a monthly survey by S&P Global Platts, crude shipments for independent refineries surged 27.7 percent year-on-year to 2.72 million barrels per day in January.
S&P Global Platts' survey also showed that refineries from China's major oil and gas companies, including China National Petroleum Corp, China Petroleum and Chemical Corp and China National Offshore Oil Corp, had cut their oil product exports in January by around 5 percent from December.
China, the largest crude and gas importer worldwide, imported 440 million tons of crude oil in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 11 percent.
The dependence ratio on foreign oil reached 69.8 percent and is expected to continue rising in 2019, according to figures from China National Petroleum Corp's Economics and Technology Research Institute.