From Reuters:

July 13 China’s June oil imports fell to the lowest on a daily basis since February but robust buying by independent “teapot” refiners and stockpiling boosted imports over the first half the year by 14.2 percent from the same period a year ago.

China imported 30.62 million tonnes of crude oil in June, or about 7.45 million barrels per day (bpd), up 3.8 percent on year, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Wednesday, easing from May’s 7.59 million bpd.

June imports dropped as a 22 percent rise in oil prices in April weighed on purchases from independent refiners, that have driven China’s imports in the first two quarters of this year. Refiners typically purchase supply two months ahead of loading and arrival.

The slowdown in imports also reflected heavy maintenance activities at both state-owned and independent refining facilities, known as teapots because of their relatively smaller size, during the month. Thomson Reuters Supply Chain & Commodities Research estimated about 700,000 to 800,000 bpd of capacity were shut down in June.

For the first half of this year, China imported 186.53 million tonnes of crude oil, or 7.48 million bpd, up 14.2 percent or equivalent to 930,550 bpd.

The June volume is also lower than Thomson Reuters Research’s’ final import estimate of 31.82 million tonnes.

Near term, traders expect demand from the independents, which made up over half the incremental oil purchases in the first six months of 2016, to ease due to high crude inventories and swelling domestic fuel productions.

“Looking forward, teapot’s margins will come under pressure,” said a Beijing-based crude oil trading manager with a state refiner.

Top refiner Sinopec said last week that it aimed for a flat or small decrease in refinery throughput this year versus 2015.

China’s crude oil exports were 140,000 tonnes in June, up from zero in May.

Oil product imports in June fell 28.4 percent on year to 2.22 million tonnes.

Exports, however, jumped 37.9 percent to 4.22 million tonnes, the second-highest on record, the data showed, as mounting fuel productions from the teapot refiners added to swelling domestic supplies.

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