SINGAPORE: China has issued 52.66 million tonnes of crude oil import quotas to non-state refiners in a second batch of allotments for 2022, up 49% from the same slot last year, four people with knowledge of the matter said.
The new allowances bring China's total non-state import quotas to 161.69 million tonnes by far this year, compared to 157.83 million tonnes during the same period of 2021.
Thirty-six refiners have been granted the quotas, with mega-refinery Zhengjiang Petroleum & Chemical Corp and Hengli Petrochemical receiving the most, at 10 million tonnes and 6 million tonnes respectively.
The issue of new quotas comes as independent refiners are snapping up discounted crude from Russia and cranking up output as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Independent refiners, also known as teapots, typically go after cheap cargoes in the spot market as they lack the credit needed for long-term contracts with suppliers.
Russian crude has been priced at a steep discount since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, as some buyers eschewed Russian barrels against a backdrop of Western sanctions.
China's crude oil imports from Russia soared 55% in May from a year earlier to a record level. Beijing has refused to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The Ministry of Commerce, which is in charge of the quota allocation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside office hours.