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China’s July refinery output hits new monthly peak as top plants return from overhauls

China’s refinery output jumped 12% in July from the same month a year earlier, hitting the highest on record for any single month, as several major state plants resumed operations after maintenance overhauls.

China processed 59.56 million tonnes of crude oil last month, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Friday, equivalent to about 14.03 million barrels per day (bpd).

Throughput for the first seven months totalled 378.65 million tonnes, or about 12.98 million bpd, up 2.3% from the same period a year ago.

Two of Sinopec Corp’s top plants – Zhenhai and Tianjin – and PetroChina’s Dalian plant resumed production after being off-line for months.

But the elevated production came amid slowing demand for diesel and gasoline as severe floods hit provinces along the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River for much of July, leading to brimming inventories and signalling potential cutbacks in fuel processing down the line.

Run rates at independent refineries across China have already fallen to around 70% this week from near 80% last month, according to China-based Longzhong consultancy.

“Stocks were very high, near the highest levels seen in February when the country was worst hit by the coronavirus, as floods stalled road traffic and slowed down construction,” said Wang Zhao, senior analyst with Sublime Information Group, ahead of the data release.

The NBS data also showed China’s domestic crude oil output rose 0.6% last month compared with the same month a year ago to 16.46 million tonnes, or 3.88 million bpd. Output for the January-July period reached 113.5 million tonnes, up 1.4% over the year-ago period.

Meanwhile, natural gas output grew 4.8% last month from a year earlier to 14.2 billion cubic metres (bcm), and production for the first seven months of the year climbed 9.5% to 108.3 bcm.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Chen Aizhu in Singapore; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Kenneth Maxwell)

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