China’s apparent oil demand in July increased to 38.29 million metric tones (mt), or an average of 9.05 million barrels per day (b/d), as oil consumption appeared to have recovered after seasonal refinery maintenance, according to an analysis of recent Chinese government statistics by Platts.
In June, apparent oil demand by the world's second largest oil consumer slumped to just 9.01 million b/d, the lowest so far in 2011, as several refineries were shut for turnarounds. In July, Chinese refineries processed 37.49 million mt of crude oil, or an average of 8.86 million b/d, up from June’s processing rate of 8.69 million b/d and 6.2% more than the crude throughput a year ago.
Local refineries boosted output as margins improved following a decline in the cost of crude feedstock and domestic retail prices for gasoline and diesel remained unchanged since the last price hike announced by the government in April, industry sources said.
Chinese refiners also ramped up production to restock depleting inventories of diesel in preparation for the August harvest season when consumption is expect to rise, the sources said. July net oil product imports stood at 0.8 million mt, slightly higher than 0.54 million mt in July 2010, but less than June’s net imports of 1.36 million mt.
With most of the scheduled maintenance completed by the end of July, analysts expect Chinese oil demand and crude imports to resume their uptrend in the second half of the year.
A forecast released earlier this’month by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) calls for China's crude throughput in 2011 to reach around 460 million mt or an average of 9.24 million b/d, up 8.5% from 2010. In the first seven months of this year, total crude throughput stood at 258.77 million mt, or an average of 8.95 million b/d.