Oil exports from China last year accounted for a sharp drop in oil imports from the capital nation.
In October China's refineries used 58,4 million tonnes of crude equivalent to about 13.75 million barrels per day (bpd), up from the six-month low of 13.64 million bpd in September. read more, read more about their crude production.
And the total volume of crude which refineries both import and domestic imports have provided for: 54.63 million tonnes, or about 12 million bpd.
This means that refineries processed about 890,000 bpd more crude than those available from imports and domestic production - meaning they had to draw down on inventories.
To estimate the total amounts of crude made from imports and production can be deducted from the amount of crude that is processed. That suggests do not disclose the volume of crude that flows from or from strategic and commercial stockpiles.
In the past seven months, China refineries have processed more crude than they have used at five occasions to provide in the past.
With a strong stockpile build only in the first quarter of 2021, China has added an estimated 150 bpd to its commercial or strategic storages.
Yet even this modest build isn't as bad as last years, as China has consistently imported crude significantly beyond its consumption as it began to build up its strategic petroleum reserves (SPR).
Despite refinery throughput, China's imports and domestic output combined exceeded 1.26 million bpd by 2020.
The demand for crude oil and the imports of China's appetite for crude oil has been a major driver of recent growth for the fuel, but it's likely that 2021 will see that dynamic come to an end.
According to official customs data, Imports for the first 10 months of the year were 10.21 million bpd, down 7.2% in the same period in 2020.
The lowest import since September 2018 increased by 8.9 million bpd in October.
Exports are often ruined by lack of import quotas for independent refineries and the more power scarce that led to energy-intensive industries, such as oil refinery, and scaling down production, to save electricity.
China's crude imports will likely recover in November and December as refiners work on improving fuel supplies for the northern winter.
To be able to fill the SPR, there does appear to be a structural shift under the pressure of China's crude imports, with a gradual easing of the buying process, namely the gradual easing of the SPR.
Graph: China total crude oil available in comparison to refinery processing.
NORTH NEARS COMPLETION : SPR NEARS COMPLETION.
The International Energy Agency recommended that Beijing doesn't disclose the amount of crude in the SPR, but officials said that it was fast to fill and China was holding 90 days of import cover, which the International Energy Agency recommended.
China's etiquette indicates a willingness to offer a local refiner to its customers if it considers international crude prices to be too far, to have a fast rise of a tiss.
The price of crude from the SPR was announced in September. While the volumes offered were relatively small, they were probably part of the lower imports in October.
The global oil market had grown accustomed to China buying substantially more crude than he consumed it, and that would likely change in the coming years.
China's crude oil imports will likely be more closely aligned with its domestic fuel demand.
It's tough to predict the degree of refined product production allowed by Beijing for export. This is a very controversial decision.
There is substantial spare capacity in China's refining system, meaning they can strengthen exports, but there is also a concern over the environmental and power demand issues of boosting refinery throughput.
The opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author, a columnist for Reuters.