CHINA DATA: Nov crude throughput inches up as state-owned refiners raise run rates to 80%
Crude throughput at China’s refineries is slightly higher in November, with state-owned oil companies lifting their average run rates by one percentage point month on month to 79.8% of capacity, data collected by S&P Global Platts showed on Nov. 27.
According to the data, 39 refineries of state-owned oil giants Sinopec, PetroChina, CNOOC and Sinochem planned to process 7.07 million b/d of crude in November, accounting for 79.8% of their nameplate capacity of 8.86 million b/d. They include 20 Sinopec refineries, 17 PetroChina refineries, CNOOC’s Huizhou Petrochemical and Sinochem’s Quanzhou Petrochemical refineries.
Around 25 of those 39 refineries raised run rates while nine of them cut rates, including a few that were under maintenance in November. This compared with 25 of them reducing run rates in October.
PetroChina and Sinochem have each raised run rates by one percentage point from October, while CNOOC’s operating rate jumped to 100% of capacity from 96%.
Three PetroChina refineries raised throughput in November, boosting the company’s average utilization rate to 73% from 72% in October. Its Jinxi Petrochemical refinery ramped up run rates by about three percentage points month on month to 70% of capacity, after restarting from scheduled maintenance end-September.
“Sales of low pour point gasoil has been good recently in northern China,” said a PetroChina refinery source in northeastern China, explaining the reason for the rise in run rates.
Meanwhile, its Guangxi Petrochemical refinery in southern China also raised operating rates by about seven percentage points to 76% in November, from a six-month-low of 69% in October.
Its neighboring Yunnan Petrochemical refinery in southwestern China will shut for scheduled maintenance from early December, which could leave more room for the Guangxi refinery to further increase its run rate in December.
In addition, Daqing Petrochemical raised run rates by about six percentage points on the month to around 58% of capacity, after starting to process Russian ESPO crudes.
SINOPEC RUN RATES STEADY
Sinopec has kept its November utilization rate steady from October at 82% of capacity, Platts data showed.
Its Jinling Petrochemical refinery cut its run rate by about 14 percentage points from October, after shutting the 8 million mt/year CDU for maintenance from mid-November.
The reduction is partially offset by Qilu Petrochemical’s restart of its 8 million mt/year CDU in November from a turnaround.
Sinopec’s newly launched 10 million mt/year Zhongke Petrochemical refinery also lifted November run rates by about five percentage points to 75% of capacity.
China’s domestic refineries processed 14.15 million b/d of crude in October, up 0.9% on the month, ending the downtrend and hitting a fresh record high, National Bureau of Statistics data released Nov. 16 showed.
The previous record high was 14.14 million b/d in June.
INDEPENDENT REFINERS KEEP RUN RATES FAIRLY STABLE
China’s independent refineries have kept run rates broadly unchanged from October, except Zhejiang Petroleum & Chemical, which raised throughput as part of trial runs at its new 10 million mt/year CDU.
ZPC’s average utilization rate for three of its 10 million mt/year CDUs is 83% in November, according to a company source. This translates to about 2 million mt of crude throughput in the month, up about 9.5% from October.
Refinery engineers said a new CDU under trial operations should run above 50% of capacity, which is likely to be the rough utilization rate of ZPC’s new CDU that is undergoing trial runs in November ahead of starting up.
This could lead the utilization rate of the existing two CDUs — with a combined capacity of 20 million mt/year — to be at about 100% in November compared to 110% in October.
At the same time, the 20 million mt/year Hengli Petrochemical (Dalian) refinery in northeastern China kept run rates steady on the month at around 105% of capacity.
The same story goes for the 45 small-sized independent refineries in Shandong province. Those refineries have maintained steady run rates at around 72% of capacity as of Nov. 25, slightly lower from 73.2% in
October, according to local information provider JLC.
“Refining margins have been good recently, and there is limited scheduled maintenance towards the end of the year, so the run rates will largely remain rangebound,” an analyst with JLC said.
STATE-OWNED REFINERS’ SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE, RESTARTS IN 2020/EARLY 2021
** PetroChina’s 13 million mt/year Yunnan Petrochemical refinery will shut from early December till end-January for around 50-days of scheduled maintenance, postponed from October;
** Sinopec’s Qingdao Petrochemical plant to restart around Dec. 1 from scheduled maintenance that began Oct. 10;
** Sinopec’s Wuhan Petrochemical to restart around Dec. 15 from two months of maintenance since October;
** Sinopec’s Qilu Petrochemical to complete maintenance at its 8 million mt/year CDU and several secondary units by end-November;
** Sinopec’s 21 million mt/year Jinling Petrochemical shut an 8 million mt/year CDU as well as some secondary units for about 40 days of maintenance since Nov. 18.
** CNOOC’s Huizhou Petrochemical will shut for maintenance over February-April 2021.