China's crude oil imports in May topped five million barrels per day (bpd) for a fifth consecutive month, as limited domestic output growth prompts the world's second largest consumer to persistently tap imported fuels to power economic growth.
Customs data showed China, which depends on imports for more than 55 per cent of its oil demand, brought in 21.55 million tonnes of crude oil last month, almost flat with 21.54 million tonnes in April. The volume was 20.7 per cent higher from a year earlier, in part due to a low base. On a daily basis, the imports in May were equivalent to 5.07 million barrels per day, topping the five million mark for the fifth month in a row.
Imports of oil products rose 5.3 per cent from a month earlier to 3.39 million tonnes in May while exports of oil products rose 20 per cent to 2.46 million tonnes, resulting in net fuel imports of 930,000 tonnes, the lowest since November.
"There are signs that China's economic growth is moderating, but its oil appetite may not slow that much, because China is expanding its emergency oil reserves," said an analyst with a foreign consultancy in Beijing. "The increases in China's oil output in recent quarters was actually higher than a norm of 1-2 per cent in past years, but they still failed to catch up with demand growth."