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China December Refinery Runs Highest On Record

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 | 00:00
China's December refinery throughput rose to the highest monthly level on record, likely due to the stockpiling of refined oil products ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.
China processed 39.23 million metric tons of crude oil in December, equivalent to 9.28 million barrels a day, up 4.0% from a year earlier and surpassing November's record throughput, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Tuesday.
December's daily throughput was slightly higher than November's 9.25 million barrels, according to Dow Jones Newswires calculations.
Refinery run rates moved in the opposite direction of December's crude output and imports, both of which fell by more than 3% on year, to 16.98 million tons and 21.92 million tons, respectively.
One reason for the mismatch could be that more crude was drawn from storage in December, said Kang Wu, an analyst at FACTS Global Energy.
This would add to stock drawdowns seen at end-November, when China's crude inventories fell for a second consecutive month, down 1.34% versus a month earlier, state-controlled Xinhua news agency reported last month.
China's monthly imports and production data don't necessarily have to match refinery throughput figures, but they should sync up over time, Wu said, adding, "January crude imports could be higher if not for anything else other than they may have drawn down quite a bit in December."
China's domestic refineries likely increased production ahead of the Lunar New Year in late January, when economic activity slows as hundreds of millions of Chinese go on a weeklong holiday. Refinery runs in the fourth quarter were also underpinned by demand for more output to cover tight supplies of diesel in many parts of the country.
In October, PetroChina Co. (PTR) directed its refineries to run at full capacity to boost diesel output following recent shortages. In addition, China's National Development and Reform Commission asked domestic refineries in early December to maximize diesel production.
China's December diesel output rose 3.7% to 14.66 million tons from year-earlier levels, with production for the full calendar year rising 5.4% to 166.78 million tons.
Gasoline and fuel oil production totaled 7.2 million tons and 1.54 million tons in December, up 5.5% and down 3.6%, respectively, on year, the data showed.
China's 2011 fuel oil output fell 2.1%, as more advanced refineries processed residues into valuable oil products, such as diesel and gasoline.
China's December kerosene output totaled 1.64 million tons, up 24.6% on year.
Crude runs rose 4.9% in 2011, to 447.74 million metric tons, the data showed.
Source: Dow Jones
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