MOSCOW (MRC) -- China's diesel exports in December sank to their lowest monthly level since March 2015, bringing the 2021 total to the lowest since 2016 at 17.21 MM tons, reported Reuters with reference to released data on Tuesday.
December exports of diesel slumped to 330,000 tons, down 78% from a year earlier, amid diminishing export quotas and as refiners curbed runs in response to a slowdown in domestic demand, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
Total refined fuel, including diesel, gasoline, aviation fuel and low-sulfur fuel oil, fell 45% from a year earlier to 3.23 MM tons last month, the lowest monthly level since July 2020.
A diesel crunch triggered by power rationing in the third quarter proved short-lived and the domestic market flipped back into a surplus, analysts said, as reflected in national refinery output, which fell last month by nearly 5% from November and 2% from a year earlier.
Gasoline exports were 940,000 tons, rising from November's 810,000 tons but down 35% from the same period last year. Annual exports fell 9% to 14.54 MM tons, a three-year low. December jet fuel exports were 590,000 tons, down from November's 940,000 tons.
Rigid border controls and expanding lockdowns in parts of the country to contain a resurgence of coronavirus infections and fend off the highly contagious Omicron variant dampened demand for gasoline and jet fuel.
China's annual refined fuel exports dropped 2.4% over 2020 to 60.31 MM tons, as the government tightened export quotas to discourage excessive domestic refinery production.
Tuesday's data showed imports of LNG at 7.63 MM tons in December, versus 6.9 MM tons in November but up just 1.6% versus the year-earlier level as stubbornly high Asian spot prices hurt import appetite.
An all-time monthly record high was set in Jan 2021 at 8.49 MM tons. Imports for the whole year totaled a record 78.93 MM tons, up 18.3% from 2020, making the country the world's largest buyer of the super-chilled fuel.
Piped gas imports last month also set a record at 4.02 MM tons, up nearly 11% over a year earlier, data showed, as Russian supplies ramped up.
As MRC wrote previously, China's refinery output hit a fresh high in 2021, up 4.3% from a year earlier on robust fuel demand especially in the first half of the year, and as refiners ramped up processing to fill a supply gap after a hefty new tax closed loopholes in blending fuel imports. Total refinery throughput last year reached 703.55 MM tons, or 14.07 MMbpd, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Monday, roughly 620,000 bpd above the 2020 level.
Ethylene and propylene are the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), respectively.
According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,265,290 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2021, up by 14% year on year. Shipments of all grades of ethylene polymers increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market were 1,363,850 tonnes in January-November, 2021, up by 25% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and block-copolymers of propylene (PP block copolymers) increased, whereas supply of injection moulding PP random copolymers decreased significantly.