Hanoi — Vietnam hiked imports of crude oil in January and raised exports for the first time in more than a year, preliminary data released Monday by Vietnam Customs showed.
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The country imported 910,633 mt (215,321 b/d) of crude oil in January, up from none a year earlier and up 31.2% from December, the preliminary data showed. The value of the imports totaled $390 million in January, up 19.1% from December.
Vietnam imported 5.17 million mt of crude oil in 2018, up 4.4 times from 1.18 million mt in 2017. Vietnam Customs did not provide a breakdown of supply sources by country.
The rise in imports in January came after the 200,000 b/d refinery at Nghi Son began commercial operations on November 14 last year. Crude for Nghi Son is shipped from Kuwait.
State-owned PetroVietnam has a 25.1% stake in the refinery, Kuwait Petroleum International 35.1%, Japan's Idemitsu Kosan 35.1% and Japan's Mitsui Chemicals 4.7%.
Meanwhile, Vietnam exported 486,712 mt of crude oil in January, surging 27.8% year on year and up 39% from December, the data showed.
Russian-Vietnamese joint venture VietsovPetro in January produced first oil from the Ca Tam offshore oilfield in southern Vietnam. Initial production from the field in block 09-3/12 was 1,630 mt/day and this could more than double at its peak, S&P Global Platts reported earlier.
The value of the exports in January was $226 million, up 10.2% on year, with Thailand and China the major buyers in the month.
Vietnam exported 3.96 million mt of crude oil in 2018, down 41.9% on year, mostly to China, Thailand and Australia.
Part of Vietnam's crude output is routed to its 130,000 b/d refinery at Dung Quat and the rest exported.
--Edited by Wendy Wells, email@example.com