Singapore —
China’s refinery crude throughput rose 4.9% year on year to a record high of 12.54 million b/d (51.34 million mt) in September, despite the country’s GDP growth slowing to 6.5% in the third quarter from 6.8% a year ago, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed Friday.

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It also represented a 5.4% rebound from the eight-month-low of 11.9 million b/d recorded in August.

The strong throughput was within expectations due to strong demand for oil products since mid-August, and the trend was likely to extend into October, analysts said.

“The rebound in September was broadly in line with our expectations of around 12.6 million b/d. This likely reflected higher seasonal demand and some stocking of oil products after August’s unusual draw,” said Grace Lee, senior analyst with S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Gasoline and gasoil stocks in August dropped by around 32% from July at the wholesale level, Lee said, citing data from local information provider JLC.

It was the deepest monthly decline since January 2016 when JLC started to provide the stock data.

Demand for gasoil, gasoline, jet fuel, bunker and asphalt has rebounded since mid-August as autumn is the typical peak season for harvesting, fishing, construction, mining and individual traveling, market sources said.

“Beijing resumed massive infrastructure projects to stimulate economy in H2, amplifying the demand rebound,” said a Beijing-based analyst.

As a result, China’s independent refineries boosted their collective throughput to 67% in September from 52.5% in July and 59% in August, JLC’s data showed.

State-owned refineries also raised their run rates from 80% in August to a seven-month high of 84% in September, a Platts survey showed.

OCTOBER REMAINS ROBUST

Market sources predicted throughput would remain robust in October, supported by seasonal demand.

“State-run refiners’ throughput will be more or less stable from September as there is no scheduled maintenance, while PetroChina’s Huabei refinery is expected to resume operations later this month with capacity doubled after expansion,” the Beijing-based analyst said.

Huabei Petrochemical has added 100,000 b/d of primary capacity to 200,000 b/d and is preparing to start up operation soon.

A few independent refineries are also scheduled to start up operations. These refineries are CNOOC Dongying Petrochemical, Haihua Petrochemical, Wantong Petrochemical, Qirun Petrochemical and Luqing Petrochemical, which plan to start up a total 436,000 b/d primary capacity in this month, market sources said. Their startup will offset a combined capacity of 267,000 b/d slated to shut for maintenance in the sector, according to JLC.

State-owned and independent refineries account for around 75% and 25% of China’s total refining capacity respectively.

Over January-September, total refinery crude throughput across China rose 8.1% year on year to 12.15 million b/d or 452.54 million mt, NBS data showed.

Crude oil production last month, however, fell 2.4% year on year to 3.71 million b/d, while domestic output over January-September declined 1.9% to 3.79 million b/d.

The country’s natural gas production rose 8.5% year on year to 12.2 Bcm in September, and grew 6.2% year on year to 116.2 Bcm during the first three quarters, NBS data showed. — Oceana Zhou, oceana.zhou@spglobal.com

— Edited by Jonathan Fox, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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