* China issues 52.66 mln T crude imports quotas to 36
* Total quotas issued for 2022 so far at 161.69 mln T
SINGAPORE, June 28 (Reuters) - 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 so 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 comes as independent refiners snap up discounted
crude from Russia and crank up output as COVID-19 restrictions
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
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.
The amount of new quotas issued is in line with
expectations, given demand is coming back, said one of the
Operational rates at China's independent refiners rebounded
to more than 65% last week from below 50% in April, when cities
in eastern China were under COVID lockdowns. Analysts and
traders expect run rates to reach around 70% by end-June.
The new quota will allow China to take more crude cargoes
from the already tight global market, further driving up prices.
But traders said the second batch of quotas would conclude
the majority of the allotment for 2022, with only a small amount
of quotas coming out in the second half.
China has set total crude import quotas for non-state
companies in 2022 at 243 million tonnes, the same level as
initially planned for 2021.
(Reporting by Muyu Xu, Florence Tan and Chen Aizhu; Editing by
Louise Heavens and Jan Harvey)