By WAYNE MA
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said Wednesday that it would slightly lower its 2012 forecast for Chinese oil demand and output due to a slowing domestic economy and the unexpected decline of both onshore and offshore production.
Oil-product demand from China, the world's largest energy consumer, is expected to average 9.913 million bpd in 2012, down from an earlier forecast of 9.996 million bpd, the IEA said in its monthly oil markets report.
"Consumption is expected to expand by 4.3% in the year as a whole - nearly one whole percentage point down on our month earlier forecast, the agency said. This reflects a lower first-quarter 2012 baseline and an easing of economic growth from 9.5% to 9.0% this year."
The IEA also lowered its 2012 estimate for Chinese oil production by 110,000 barrels day to 4.2 million barrels a day.
"We now do not expect production from the 150,000-barrel-a-day offshore Penglai field to return until late in 2012 amid government caution over the restart, the IEA said.
The Penglai 19-3 oil field in Bohai Bay, a joint venture between ConocoPhillips and China National Offshore Oil Corp., has been shut since September due to several oil spills in June.
Partly due to the spill, China's December crude output fell 3.1% to 16.98 million metric tons, or about 4.014 million bpd.
China's crude runs may remain high due to new refineries in Yinchuan and Beihai, which ramped up runs in December, the IEA said.
Chinese refinery throughput reached a record high of 9.28 million bpd in December after breaking an earlier record of 9.25 million bbl set in November.
"Both PetroChina Co. and Sinopec have announced plans to increase runs in 2012 compared to 2011, by 6.0% and 3.8% respectively," the IEA said.
The country's refinery throughput is expected to average 9.2 million bpd in the first quarter of 2012 and could rise as high as 9.4 million bpd in April, according to an IEA forecast.
Dow Jones Newswires