* June crude imports at record 12.9 mln bpd – calculation
* First-half crude imports up nearly 10% on year
* First-half natural gas imports up 3.3% yr/yr (Adds fuel exports, gas imports)
By Muyu Xu and Chen Aizhu
BEIJING/SINGAPORE, July 14 (Reuters) – China’s June crude oil imports jumped by a third from the same period a year earlier, setting a second straight monthly record, as cheap cargoes bought during April’s oil price crash arrived at Chinese ports.
China, the world’s top crude oil importer, took in 53.18 million tonnes of oil, according to data from the General Administration of Customs on Tuesday, equivalent to 12.9 million barrels per day (bpd).
That easily beat the previous record of 11.3 million bpd in May, and was up 34% from 9.63 million bpd in June 2019.
For the first half of 2020, China imported a total of 268.75 million tonnes of crude oil, data showed, equivalent to 10.78 million bpd, up 9.9% from the same period last year.
The bumper crude oil arrivals for June followed bargain-hunting by Chinese refiners when oil prices collapsed in April amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Storage facilities holding crude stocks at major ports are close to full, and port officials and traders expect congestion caused by the record arrivals to continue through July.
As of July 13, shipping data from Refinitiv Eikon showed 37 tankers queued around the oil refining hub of Shandong province and 24 at Zhoushan port in eastern China.
Analysts have said China’s crude imports will ease in the third quarter as a recovery in oil prices weakens demand while refiners remain on the alert for a second coronavirus outbreak.
Customs data also shows China’s refined oil product exports for June at 3.87 million tonnes, a fraction lower than 3.89 million tonnes in May, but down nearly 29% from the same month last year.
June’s natural gas imports, both piped and liquefied natural gas (LNG), were 8.33 million tonnes, up about 11% from a year earlier. For the first half of this year as a whole, they were 48.36 million tonnes, up 3.3% from a year earlier, according to customs data.
1 tonne=7.3 barrels of crude
Reporting by Chen Aizhu in Singapore and Muyu Xu in Beijing;
Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Kenneth Maxwell