* China daily crude imports hit record above 8 mln bpd in
* Jan-Sept crude imports rise 14 pct on year to 7.55 mln bpd
* China overtakes U.S. as world's largest crude importer in
(Recasts throughout, adds details)
By Meng Meng and Florence Tan
BEIJING/SINGAPORE, Oct 13 China imported record
volumes of crude oil last month, eclipsing the United States as
the world's top buyer of foreign oil as Beijing's state reserves
shipped in cheap crude to fill new storage tanks.
September's crude imports rose 18 percent from a year
earlier to 33.06 million tonnes or 8.04 million barrels per day
(bpd) on daily basis, customs data showed.
The buying outpaced the U.S. four-week average assessed by
the U.S. Energy Information Administration of 7.98 million bpd
at the end of September.
It marked the second time this year - but the third month in
the past twelve - that China's imports have overtaken the United
States, and reflected contracts signed in July when renewed
selling pressure pushed crude below $42 a barrel. Oil has since
recovered to around $50 a barrel.
The shipments also arrived as Chinese refineries entered the
final stretch of their annual maintenance season, which
typically takes place in the third quarter.
With U.S. plants' repair work extending into this month, the
world's largest economy could retake pole position in October,
China's strategic reserve is preparing to start filling late
this year newly-built storage tanks that can take some 19
million barrels of crude, or about three days worth of imports,
"The increase was mainly driven by stocking activities at
some reserve sites," said Harry Liu, associate director of oil
markets with IHS Energy, who said August and September volumes
were higher than he expected.
That contrasts with earlier in the year when China's
independent refiners known as "teapots" were the driving force
behind the imports.
Analysts from BMI research expected China's crude imports to
remain elevated for the rest of the year due to falling
production, expanding storage capacity and a seasonal uptick in
demand over the winter months.
Over the first nine months, import volumes rose 14 percent
to 284 million tonnes, or 7.55 million bpd, according to the
data. On a cumulative basis, the United States is still the
biggest importer with more than 8 million bpd of imports.
China's refined fuel exports in September rose 21.1 percent
from a year ago to 4.3 million tonnes, near the record high 4.57
million tonnes notched in July and well up on August's 3.7
The month-on-month gain rekindled worries of a supply glut
in fuel products and might weigh on oil demand in the fourth
quarter, analysts said.
(Reporting by Meng Meng and Florence Tan; writing by Josephine
Mason; Editing by Tom Hogue and Richard Pullin)