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China Feb diesel exports highest in a decade


China's diesel exports soared to the highest level in a decade in February as oil firms stepped up efforts to draw down record inventories amid weakened demand.

The world's second-largest oil user exported 330,000 tonnes of diesel last month, a rise of 1,838 percent from a year earlier, preliminary data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Monday.

The sharp February increase was about double what traders had forecast and followed a nearly five-fold rise in January.

Gasoline exports in February also rose 122 percent to about 290,000 tonnes after surging 242.7 percent in January, also doubling what traders had expected.

Faced with steady gasoline consumption due to China's expanding car fleet and falling diesel demand on anemic industrial activity, Sinopec, Asia's top refiner, had ordered plants to raise gasoline output while cutting diesel since February.

The leading fuel supplier in China had also said it would raise diesel exports given the sluggish demand and swollen stocks of the fuel in the domestic market.

China's commercial diesel stocks held by two state-owned oil groups reached a record 53.8 million barrels by end-January, up 2.87 percent from the end of 2008, China OGP, a publication run by Xinhua News Agency, has reported.

Gasoline stocks were also at record levels, though the growth rate slowed to only 0.57 percent from the level at the end of 2008.

China's fuel oil imports in February increased 33 percent to 2.3 million tonnes, the latest customs data showed, indicating a likely pickup of operational activity by independent refineries.


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