Platts Report: China Oil Demand Rises 11.7% in June Versus a Year Ago

Refinery Utilization Rates Rebound; Net Oil Products Increase

Jul 23, 2013, 10:11 ET from Platts

SINGAPORE, July 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- China's apparent oil demand* in June rose by 11.7% to an average 9.99 million barrels per day (b/d) or 40.89 million metric tons (mt), a just-released Platts analysis of Chinese government data showed.

Apparent oil demand in June was the highest since February 2011. This was a rebound from relatively more sluggish growth in the first half of 2013 and demonstrates significant growth in relation to the comparatively low level in June last year.

In May this year apparent oil demand edged up just 1.9% year over year to an average 9.53 million b/d while in April, apparent demand rose 2.1% to an average 9.66 million b/d.

Refinery runs, or capacity utilization, surged 10.8% in June versus a year earlier to 9.68 million b/d. Refinery throughput was also 4.8% higher than in the previous month, according to data released July 15 by China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

China's General Administration of Customs data released July 20 showed net oil products imports on a year-over-year basis jumped 50% in June to 1.29 million mt. This was largely due to a 11.9% surge in oil product imports to 3.28 million mt, while oil product exports fell 3.9% to 1.99 million mt.

Jet/kerosene imports rose 45.7% year over year to 510,000 mt while naphtha inflows more than doubled to 346,000 mt compared with June 2012. China did not import any gasoil in June and it typically does not import gasoline. Fuel oil imports in June dipped 2.9% year over year to 2.02 million mt.

For the first half of 2013, China's apparent oil demand has grown by 3.9% compared with the same period of 2012 to an average 9.87 million b/d. This was more robust than the 0.7% expansion seen over the same period last year.

"The oil data in June was surprisingly robust and was quite a contrast to the seemingly bearish macroeconomic data, such as its sluggish second quarter GDP growth and weakened industrial production," said Song Yen Ling, Platts senior writer for China.

"It is difficult to say if this level of growth will be sustained, but China's oil demand historically picks up at the end of the third quarter and the fourth quarter, so it's possible that there might be an uptick in growth later in the year."

Apparent demand for gasoil, which makes up the largest component of overall oil product demand, edged up by 2.4% year on year in June to 13.84 million mt, following two prior months of contraction.

Domestic output of gasoil rose 3.4% year on year to 13.96 million mt, while exports totaled 120,000 mt, the lowest level in a year.

Gasoline apparent demand continued to show strong growth, rising by 13.7% year on year to 7.62 million mt in June. It was buoyed by a 15.3% increase in domestic production to 8.04 million mt, while exports rose 55.6% year on year to 420,000 mt.

Jet/kerosene apparent demand rose 34.6% compared with a year earlier to 1.84 million mt, similarly due to an increase in output of 21.4% to 2 million mt. China is typically a slight net exporter of jet/kerosene and these volumes in June fell by 42.9% year on year to 160,000 mt.


Jun '13

Jun '12

% Change

May '13

Apr '13

Mar '13

Feb '13

Net crude imports

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Crude production

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Apparent demand

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Apparent demand

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Sources: China's General Administration of Customs, National Bureau of Statistics, Platts

*Platts calculates China's apparent or implied oil demand on the basis of crude throughput volumes at the domestic refineries and net oil product imports, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics and Chinese customs. Platts also takes into account undeclared revisions in NBS historical data.

The government releases data on imports, exports, domestic crude production and refinery throughput data, but does not give official data on the country's actual oil consumption figure and oil stockpiles. Official statistics on oil storage are released intermittently.

Month-to-month demand in China is generally viewed as subject to short-term anomalies which are of interest and important to note, but which often fail to reveal the country's underlying demand trends. Year-to-year comparisons are viewed by the marketplace to be more indicative of the country's energy profile.

Platts releases its monthly calculation of China's apparent demand between the 18th and 26th of every month via press release and via its website. Any use of this information must be appropriately attributed to Platts.

Platts uses a conversion rate of 7.33 barrels of crude per metric ton, the widely-accepted benchmark for markets East of Suez.

For more information on crude oil, visit the Platts website at For Chinese-language information on oil and the energy and metals markets, visit

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