Chinese refiners reined in overseas gasoline and diesel sales last month as they prioritized robust domestic demand amid a halt to export quotas.

Gasoline exports in September dropped 21% from an eight-month high to 1.09 million tons, while diesel cargoes eased 6.4% from a five-month high to 1.18 million tons, according to customs data released on Wednesday. 

Exports weakened just as domestic consumption jumped amid a peak season for demand and signs of economic recovery more broadly. Apparent oil demand in China surged 17% from a year ago to a record 15.24 million barrels a day in September.

It’s likely that refiners are slowing exports to conserve their quotas, said Li Chunyan, an analyst with industry consultant OilChem. Overseas sales have surged this year after the government issued bumper export quotas to support economic growth. 

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Beijing has since told refiners not to expect any more quotas this year as it shifts back to trying to limit carbon emissions. The government has granted around 40 million tons of quotas so far this year, compared with 37.3 million tons in 2022.