China this week released its first comprehensive import statistics for 2020, adding by-country detail to the overall figures released a week earlier.

These combined figures for January and February show the slump in travel and other economic activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic led refinery throughputs to fall by 5.4% year-on-year (MEES, 20 March). And of course, the scale of the epidemic was only becoming apparent in late January, with refineries implementing run cuts from early February (MEES, 7 February). So the fall in demand for February alone, and indeed for March despite a nascent return to activity, will have been far greater still. (CONTINUED - 1016 WORDS)