BEIJING -China's diesel exports plunged 38per cent in May from a month before to their lowest level this year, as reduced fuel output during the refinery maintenance season forced refiners to prioritise domestic consumers.
China shipped out 1.68 million tonnes of diesel last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Friday. That compares with 2.72 million tonnes in April, but was still higher than 1.45 million tonnes in May last year.
May gasoline exports were at 1.55 million tonnes, edging up 5per cent from April and more than double the low base in May 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic curbed travel demand overseas.
Jet kerosene exports were up 1.8per cent year-on-year at 570,000 tonnes.
Chinese refiners have been carrying out overhauls since late March, affecting more than 1 million barrels per day of crude processing capacity in April and May.
Even when refiners resume full operations in June, analysts do not expect fuel exports to pick up as a crackdown by Beijing on cheap diesel and gasoline blending is set to reduce an oversupply in the domestic market.
The central government has also launched an investigation into illicit trading of crude oil quotas by state-backed and independent refineries, which is expected to curb output of refined products at some small refining plants.
Shandong-based energy consultant JLC estimates China's fuel product exports will fall further in June, with gasoline dropping to 980,000 tonnes and diesel to 1.55 million tonnes.
Friday's customs data also showed China's liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports were 7.03 million tonnes in May, a record level for the month, buoyed by high demand from the industrial and power sectors.
Below is the latest customs data on fuel exports and imports of LNG in millions of tonnes. Percentage changes in the table are based on Reuters calculations.
Exports May y/y Jan-May y/y
per centchange per centchange
Gasoline 1.55 127.9 8.11 13.9
Diesel 1.68 15.9 10.65 3.3
Jet kerosene 0.57 1.8 2.81 -59.8
LNG 7.03 34.4 33.23 30.4
(Reporting by Muyu Xu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Jan Harvey)