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China’s January-February refinery runs hit record, gas output up 9 percent on-year

Crude throughput at China’s oil refineries in the first two months of 2019 rose 6.1 percent from a year earlier to a record on a daily basis, data showed on Thursday, as new privately-owned refiners started up their processing facilities.

China’s refiners processed 102.49 million tonnes of crude oil during January and February, according to the data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The statistical agency did not provide monthly breakdowns because of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday that fell in early February.

That processing rate works out at about 12.68 million barrels per day (bpd), according to Reuters calculations based on the NBS data, exceeding the previous daily high hit in September at 12.49 million bpd. It compares to average rates recorded for all of 2018 at 12.07 million bpd.

Private chemical company Hengli Petrochemical is slated to start full operations at its 400,000-bpd plant in northeast China’s Dalian city by the end of March, after test runs started in December.

The NBS data also showed China produced 30.69 million tonnes of crude oil during the January to February period, up 0.5 percent from a year ago.

The output rate, at 3.797 million bpd, eased from 3.845 million bpd in December and edged up from an average of 3.78 million bpd for 2018.

Higher spending this year on exploration and production at China’s three national oil companies is expected to lift domestic oil production, which has slipped the last three years. But, the growth will be small due to depleting reserves at main producing fields and as new discoveries tend to be marginal.

Natural gas output rose to 28.7 billion cubic metres in the first two months of 2019, up 9.2 percent from a year earlier, the data showed, with the growth accelerating after output expanded 7.5 percent for the whole of 2018.

Gas output rose much faster than oil as state energy firms focused on developing the fuel since it has a steadier return and demand has increased under the government’s push to replace coal with gas.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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