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CHINA DATA: State-owned refiners raise Jan run rates to 81% after maintenance

The average utilization rate at China’s four state-owned refiners rebounded in January to 80.7%, with nearly 1.53 million b/d capacity coming online following scheduled maintenance, while independent refiners largely retained high run rates, S&P Global Platts data showed Jan. 27.

This was about three percentage points higher from the eight-month low of 78.2% in December, when inventories of oil products piled up despite some refineries in southern China under maintenance.

The increase is expected to more than offset the throughput cut at Shandong independent refineries ahead of the Winter Olympics. China processed 13.89 million b/d of crude in December, down 4.7% from November, official data showed.

The state-owned oil giants — Sinopec, PetroChina, CNOOC and Sinochem — have raised crude throughputs to 7.74 million b/d in January, according to calculations by S&P Global Platts based on 9.59 million b/d of their combined capacity.

In December, Platts collected data from 9.55 million b/d of capacity and derived their crude throughput at 7.39 million b/d for that month.

The higher polling capacity by Platts for the current month was due to Sinopec Luoyang Petrochemical starting up its 40,000 b/d expansion on Jan. 10.

Sinochem’s solo 300,000 b/d Quanzhou Petrochemical raised run rates to around 39% of its nameplate capacity as it restarted in January following a scheduled maintenance.

Sinopec refineries resume work
Meanwhile, four Sinopec refineries also resumed operations in January after maintenances, pushing up the Asia top refiner’s utilization rate by about two percentage points to 86.6% from December.

These plants are Fujian Refining and Petrochemical, Jinling Petrochemical, Gaoqiao Petrochemical and Guangzhou Petrochemical, with a combined capacity of 1.23 million b/d.

In addition, oil products sales in South and East China are strong amid stockpiling activities prior to the Lunar New Year holiday, which also supported high throughput.

Simultaneously, the Beijing Olympics has not yet impacted crude runs at Sinopec’s refineries neighboring the capital city, including Tianjing Petrochemical, Yanshan Petrochemical and Qilu Petrochemical.

Unlike their independent peers, these Sinopec plants are most likely to sustain their crude runs until February.

The upcoming Winter Olympics will be held over Feb. 4-20 in Beijing, which is not far from Shandong province, while the Lunar New Year holiday will start from Jan. 31 and last for more than a week.

However, the utilization rate was capped as throughput at Luoyang Petrochemical only edged up 2,365 b/d from December amid oversupply in north China, while some other refineries like Anqing Petrochemical cut runs by five percentage points as Jinling and Gaoqiao were back online.

PetroChina stable
PetroChina’s refineries have largely kept run rates stable at a low level of 74% in January from the previous month amid modest oil product inventory.

“The stocks of gasoline and gasoil is not that high this month, but the throughputs have already been trimmed,” said a source with a refinery in Dalian.

In January, Platts data covered 43 state-owned refineries, compared with 42 in December. Those included 23 Sinopec refineries, 18 PetroChina refineries, CNOOC’s Huizhou Petrochemical and Sinochem’s Quanzhou Petrochemical refinery.

The 23 Sinopec refineries covered by Platts have a combined capacity of 5.24 million b/d, accounting for 86% of the refining giant’s total capacity of 6.08 million b/d. Meanwhile, data collected by Platts for PetroChina’s refineries represents a combined capacity of 3.6 million b/d, accounting for 88% of the company’s total capacity of 4.09 million b/d.

Independents mixed
Among the independent refineries, the 400,000 b/d Hengli Petrochemical (Dalian) maintained its run rate at 100% in January, stable from December. The refinery had been operating at an average run rate of around 101% in 2021.

Meanwhile, Zhejiang Petroleum & Chemical lifted its utilization in January to around 88% of its 800,000 b/d nameplate capacity from around 82% in December. The refinery has fully commissioned its 400,000 b/d phase 2 project on Jan. 12.

But the weekly run rates at the small-sized private refineries in Shandong province have been trimmed in January, with a few refineries shutting down for maintenance and some cutting throughputs ahead of the Beijing Games due to weakening margins.

Their average run rate is expected to drop to around 65% in January from 68.8% in December, according to local energy information provider JLC.

State-owned refineries’ maintenance schedules
** Sinopec’s Fujian Refining and Petrochemical restarted a 4-million mt/year CDU and some secondary units at around Jan. 20, from a scheduled maintenance that began Nov. 10.

** Sinochem’s Quanzhou Petrochemical restarted around Jan. 19 following a scheduled maintenance that began Dec. 1.

** Sinopec’s Hainan Petrochemical is scheduled to shut the 9.5 million mt/year refinery for an overall maintenance over early March-April.

** Sinopec’s Yangtz Petrochemical is scheduled to shut the entire 14.5 million mt/year refinery for an overall maintenance March-April.

** Sinopec’s Tahe Petrochemical is scheduled to shut the 5 million mt/year refinery for an overall maintenance from mid-March to end-April.
Source: Platts

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