Oil prices have fallen as China’s March crude oil imports dropped to a five-month low, sparking concerns about weak demand for oil.
The prices slid after General Administration of Customs data showed that March crude oil imports fell to less than 6 million barrels per day (bpd), after three months of high inbound shipments and gains in fuel product inventories.
The data shows that China imported 23.52 million tonnes, or 5.54 million bpd of oil in March, down 7.8% on a daily basis from 6.01 million bpd in February.
Exports in China also dropped unexpectedly for the second straight month, increasing concerns about weak manufacturing and slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
US Energy Information Administration data did show that the country’s crude inventories rose by 4 million barrels in the week to 4 April. Demand for gasoline was 4.4% higher than a year ago at 8.8 million bpd.
Investors continue to worry about tensions between Russia and the West. Oil traders were keenly watching the latest development in Libya, where the country’s state-run Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) said that they are in total control of the eastern Hariga oil port, but a handover by rebels to the PFG had yet to happen at the Zueitina port.
Image: China’s crude intake in March was the lowest since imports dropped to a 13-month low of 4.81 million barrels per day in October 2013.