SINGAPORE, June 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Platts – China's apparent* oil demand continued its 2010 climb at a steady clip from a year ago to reach 36.48 million metric tons (mt) or about 8.6 million barrels per day (b/d) in May, according to a Platts analysis of official data just released. This is 9.8% higher than the corresponding month of 2009.
The country's oil demand in May, though higher than the April figure of 35.42 million metric tons, averaged 8.62 million barrels per day, lower than the previous month's 8.65 million b/d average, which is explained by May being a longer month.
Chinese refiners boosted their combined crude throughput to a new record high of 35.79 million metric tons (8.46 million b/d) in May, beating their previous record of 34.41 million metric tons set in April and more than offsetting a decline in net refined product imports, customs statistics showed.
Compared with a year ago, crude processed in May was 14.74% higher. Increased indigenous production helped China squeeze its net refined product imports to just 690,000 metric tons in May from more than one million metric tons in April and two million metric tons a year ago.
"The on-year increase in monthly Chinese oil demand has been progressively easing since January's 17.6% growth, and shrank to a single digit for the first time in May, according to Platts records," said Vandana Hari, Asia editorial director at Platts. "But the growth rates looked higher at the start of 2010 because of a low comparison base at the beginning of 2009, when Chinese oil consumption briefly felt the effects of the global economic crisis."
"If you look at absolute figures, the 36.48 million metric tons of apparent demand in May is the highest the country has ever recorded."
"However, resurgent debt woes in Europe, China's largest trading partner, could temper Chinese oil demand growth in the coming months if it dampens exports, which leapt by a strong 49% in May versus a year ago," Hari added.
China's oil demand growth this year has received a major boost from consumption of naphtha, feedstock for the country's growing petrochemicals capacity, but also the product most susceptible to a decline in overseas demand for Chinese goods.
Meanwhile, China's apparent oil demand in the first five months of 2010 totaled 174.07 million metric tons, compared with 153.07 million metric tons in the corresponding period of 2009.
MONTHLY TRADE DATA IN MILLION METRIC TONS:
Net crude imports
*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.
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.
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.
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