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China’s oil refinery runs fall for first year since 2001

China’s oil refinery throughput in 2022 fell 3.4% from a year earlier, its first annual decline since 2001, as China’s rigid COVID-19 controls took a toll on the economy and fuel consumption.

Refiners processed 675.9 million tonnes of crude oil last year, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Tuesday, or about 13.5 million barrels per day (bpd). In 2001 processing slipped 0.3% from the prior year, NBS records showed.

This is just down from 14.5 million bpd in November and the record of 14.8 million bpd in June 2021.

Following eight months of consecutive year-on-year declines between January and August, refinery processing began a rebound in September as the government shifted its fuel trade policy by issuing a large set of quotas to spur exports.

Fourth-quarter refined fuel exports, including diesel, gasoline, aviation fuel and marine fuel oil, surged 61% over a year-ago period to 18.3 million tonnes.

The start-up of PetroChina’s new 200,000-bpd crude unit in Guangdong and Shenghong Petrochemical’s 320,000-bpd plant in Jiangsu also helped support run levels during the last few months of 2022.

NBS data also showed natural gas production in December gained 6.5% from a year earlier to 20.4 billion cubic metres (bcm), a monthly record,as state oil majors stepped up drilling to supply winter heating demand.

Output for 2022 rose 6.4% to a yearly record of 217.8 bcm, the sixth year that annual production has risen by more than 10 bcm and providing a supply cushion as China cut back on expensive purchases of liquefied natural gas.

Crude oil production remained firmly above the 4 million bpd mark, a level regarded by the state-dominated sector as strategic to ensure domestic supply security, as companies stepped up developing more challenging reservoirs.

Last year’s output was up 2.9% from 2021 at 204.67 million tonnes, or 4.1 million bpd, with December output up 2.5% on the year at 16.87 million tonnes.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Tom Hogue and Christian Schmollinger)

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