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Diesel, petrol export boom extends to May
Updated: 2005-04-25 10:16

China's diesel and gasoline export frenzy was set to extend into its third month in May as rising domestic production outpaced easing demand growth, domestic oil traders said.

Fuelling the rare trend is the Chinese Government's cap on domestic retail oil products below global benchmarks, which has led to big losses at Chinese refineries and stoked speculation that the government might soon raise diesel prices if crude held above US$50 a barrel.

Domestic traders said China planned to skip importing diesel for next month and would export about 80,000 tons.

A surge in sales abroad flipped China back into a net exporter of diesel in March, the first time since late 2003, with first-quarter shipments up 66 percent on the year to 18,000 barrels per day (bpd), Chinese customs data showed.

Chinese refineries were raising domestic output by running expanded plants near full rates. Crude throughput in March rose 10.8 percent on the year to 5.81 million bpd, taking first-quarter runs up 8.1 percent to a record 5.83 million bpd, official data showed.

Domestic distribution officials said the export boom helped to thin diesel stocks from their high levels earlier this year, but there were no alarming signs of shortages.

Traders estimated total Chinese gasoline exports in April at 670,000 tons, down from the 18-month high of 770,000 tons in March, but well above the first-quarter average.

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