BEIJING China's crude imports in January rose 27.5 percent from a year earlier to the third-highest volume ever, suggesting robust demand despite disruptions from the Lunar New Year holiday.
China's imports of 34.03 million tonnes, or 8.01 million barrels per day (bpd), the General Administration of Customs reported on Friday. The imports were down from December's record 8.57 million bpd.
Manufacturing activity and fuel demand typically slows ahead of the Lunar New Year as production of raw materials eases.
China's crude shipments and fuel exports hit a record in December 2016. However, Reuters's calculations showed China's overall oil demand growth has been easing during the last three years.
China's crude imports are expected to soften in the first half of 2017, BMI research said. Heavy refinery maintenance and a lower crude processing rate at independent refineries will contribute to the falling demand, it said.
(Reporting by Meng Meng and Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Joseph Radford and Christian Schmollinger)