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China crude processing tumbles to four-month low on weaker demand

03.14.2014  | 

Refiners are cutting oil processing as the pace of China’s economic expansion slows.



China refined the least crude in four months as fuel demand in the world’s second-largest oil consumer slowed amid a cooling economy.

Processing in the January-to-February period fell 1% from a year earlier to 78.78 million metric tons, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement on its website Friday. 

That’s equivalent to an average of 9.79 million bpd, the lowest rate since October. The bureau in Beijing combines data for the two months, citing distortions from the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, whose timing differs each year.

Refiners are cutting oil processing as the pace of China’s economic expansion slows. Benchmark US crude futures dropped the past three days, the longest losing streak in more than two months, after data on March 8 showed an 18.1 percent slump in exports. Industrial output rose 8.6% in January-February from a year earlier, the weakest for that period since 2009, the statistics bureau reported.

“Both Sinopec and PetroChina had plans to cut crude runs amid high fuel stockpiles and sluggish demand,” Amy Sun, a Guangzhou-based analyst at ICIS-C1 Energy, said of the nation’s two biggest refiners. “We think the big increase in crude imports in January probably flowed to commercial inventories in east China.”

Crude production in the first two months climbed 0.3% from a year earlier to 33.7 million tons, while natural gas output gained 7.1% to 21.4 billion cubic meters, the data show. Power output rose 5.5% to 816.2 billion kilowatt-hours.

China imported a record volume of crude in January, according to customs figures last month. Overseas purchases were up 12% from a year earlier to 28.15 million tons, or about 6.66 million bpd.

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