Since late last year, the two Chinese state-owned refiners had been importing increasing amounts of diesel, peaking at 960,000 tonnes in June, and the country became a net petrol importer for the first time in May.
Industry experts have attributed the buying binge to political orders to refiners to avoid shortages during the Olympics. The import wave had been boosted by tax rebates granted to Sinopec and PetroChina for imports of refined products.
However, much of the imported petrol and diesel has been stockpiled rather than consumed. “The state refiners’ stockpiles are so full that they have been reselling the stuff,” FPCC said.
Mr Wang said this was one of many non-economic factors in the oil price.