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China imported record volumes of crude oil last month, eclipsing the United States as the world’s top buyer of foreign oil as Beijing’s state reserves shipped in cheap crude to fill new storage tanks.

September’s crude imports rose 18 percent from a year earlier to 33.06 million tonnes or 8.04 million barrels per day (bpd) on daily basis, customs data showed.

The buying outpaced the U.S. four-week average assessed by the U.S. Energy Information Administration of 7.98 million bpd at the end of September.

It marked the second time this year – but the third month in the past twelve – that China’s imports have overtaken the United States, and reflected contracts signed in July when renewed selling pressure pushed crude below $42 a barrel. Oil has since recovered to around $50 a barrel.

China’s strategic reserve is preparing to start filling late this year newly-built storage tanks that can take some 19 million barrels of crude, or about three days worth of imports, traders said.
(Reuters)