SINGAPORE, Dec. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- China's apparent oil demand* rose 9.1% year over year in November to 42.96 million metric tons (mt), or an average 10.5 million barrels per day (b/d), the highest on record, a just-released Platts analysis of recent Chinese government data showed.
November apparent demand surpassed the previous record high of 9.8 million b/d in September. It was also higher than in October, when apparent demand had risen 6.6% year over year to 9.75 million b/d.
The robust growth is more evidence that China's economy is on the mend. In November last year, apparent demand grew by just 3.3% year over year to 9.62 million b/d.
Apparent demand in November was boosted by record refinery throughput, which rose 9.1% from November 2011 to 10.17 million b/d last month, according to data released by China's National Bureau of Statistics on December 12. Another factor contributing to the rise in apparent demand was the increase in net oil product imports of 11.6% year over year to 1.35 million mt in November.
Similar to October, it appears that Chinese refiners kept their refinery runs high in November to prepare for higher seasonal winter demand in the fourth quarter and early next year, particularly after they had run down domestic product stocks in July and August.
"The strong growth in November came from a recovery in consumption but part of it was also likely due to domestic refineries keeping their runs high to replenish oil product stocks that were run down in summer," said Song Yen Ling, Platts senior writer for China. "According to sources, demand growth could moderate to around the 5% level going forward once refiners have replaced these stocks," Song said.
In China's individual oil products markets, apparent demand for gasoil in November continued to show growth for the third consecutive month, increasing 2.8% from a year ago to 14.65 million mt or 3.66 million b/d.
Apparent demand for gasoil had contracted by an average 1.8% from June to August this year to 3.3 million b/d. It rebounded to positive growth in September, when it rose 4.7% to 3.45 million b/d.
Domestic production of gasoil, primarily used in the transport and industrial sectors, rose 5% last month versus a year ago to 14.89 million mt. China's net exports of the fuel were 240,000 mt in November, which compared to net imports of 70,000 mt in November 2011. China consumes more gasoil than any other oil product.
"November growth for gasoil apparent demand is in line with market estimates and could increase further in the coming months if the temperature in winter continues to fall," said Song. "Also, there were some new refinery capacity additions which likely contributed to the higher gasoil exports."
Apparent demand for gasoline in November rose 16.9% versus the same month a year ago to 7.71 million mt (2.18 million b/d), largely driven by domestic output, which rose 15.7% to 2.28 million b/d. China is a net exporter of gasoline. Total gasoline exports last month fell 5.7% year on year to 330,000 mt.
Meanwhile, jet fuel/kerosene demand in November dipped 1.2% on a year-over-year basis to 1.7 million mt (442,954 b/d). This occurred despite a domestic production rise of 16% in November of this year versus November 2011 to 489,754 b/d. Jet/kerosene exports surged 73.7% to 660,000 mt, while imports were similar to November 2011, at 480,000 mt.
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