China's crude oil imports in May rose 8.9% from a year ago to 6.16 million barrels per day, according to the General Administration of Customs. Meanwhile, the number fell 6.5% from the previous month's record imports of 6.81 million bpd.
Although Chinese crude oil imports are slowing from April, it still remains at relatively high level. If domestic crude oil production in May stayed at same level as Jan-Apr, total crude oil supply in the month would be about 10 million bpd.
Chinese refineries should increase their throughput level by 8% on year in order to process the entire supply. However, it is impossible because accumulated crude oil processing in the first four months in 2014 only increased by 1.8% on year. Moreover, Chinese refineries are typically shut their facilities in May and June for maintenance prior to summer demand season.
Therefore, crude oil imports in May still seems including procurements for strategic reserve.
On the other hand, Chinese trade surplus in May surged to 35.9 billion dollar, the highest monthly surplus since January 2009. Processing trade also recorded two consecutive months growth on year.
These data suggests that energy demand in the country may be underpinned in the near term. But customs data also showed a contrary story that China's petroleum products export exceeded import again following March. It shows that petroleum products are oversupply in China.