China to increase its strategic oil purchases by about 30 percent
China's purchases fell by 50 percent last year due to technical problems and "the need for an era of supply overshadowed.
China is likely to increase its strategic oil purchases by about 30 percent this year compared with 2017, the International Energy Agency said on Friday, and Beijing's passion for stockpiling could be boosted by trade tensions with the United States.
The world's top oil importer has spent the past 15 years building what the IEA called "the most ambitious strategic crude reserves program in the world" since the 1970s.
But the pace of China's purchases fell by 50 percent last year due to technical problems and "the need for an era of supply overshadowed," the agency said.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said it expected oil volumes to rise by 34.5 million barrels, or 95,000 bpd, in 2018, an increase of about 28 percent from 27 million barrels in 2017
Earlier, China's crude oil imports in March rose from a month earlier to their second-highest level ever, according to calculations on a daily basis, as refiners replenished stocks thanks to large government allocations and ahead of a season of business Maintenance to its peak.
The General Administration of Customs said on Friday that shipments of imported crude oil in March reached 39.17 million tonnes, or 9.22 million barrels per day, compared to 8.41 million bpd in February and the record high of 9.57 million bpd in January.
China's crude oil imports in the first quarter of the year rose 7 percent from a year earlier to 112.07 million tonnes or 9.09 million bpd. This represents an increase of about 595,000 bpd compared with the same period of 2017.
The growth in oil imports in the first quarter was boosted by a rise in government import quotas for independent refiners. However, buying is expected to slow in April and May due to new tax legislation targeting refiners and small oil blending, as well as planned maintenance.
(With inputs from Reuters)