UPDATE 1-China's May implied oil demand falls to 9-mth low

Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:51am EDT

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* Implied oil demand falls to 9.41 mln bpd in May

* China oil consumption down 0.7 pct on year

BEIJING, June 13 (Reuters) - China's implied oil demand fell 3.1 percent in May from the previous month to its lowest since August as refineries scaled back production for maintenance and continued to export surplus fuel to trim inventories as the nation's economy slowed.

China's economic activity stabilised in May as the government ramped up policy measures to arrest a sharper slowdown, with retail sales logging their best performance since December. Overall, though, China's recovery appears patchy.

China consumed roughly 9.41 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil last month, according to Reuters calculations based on preliminary government data, the lowest level in nine months and down from 9.71 million bpd in April.

May consumption was also down 0.7 percent from 9.48 million bpd a year earlier, the calculations showed.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast in its May report that China's total oil demand would log an increase of 355,000 bpd, or 3.5 percent, for the whole of 2014.

The IEA said China's oil demand only grew 1.3 percent in the first quarter of this year, adding that growth should pick up through the rest of the year.

The expected near-7.5 percent growth in the world's second biggest economy should support relatively strong gains in gasoline, jet fuel and petrochemical products, the IEA said.

Reuters calculates implied oil demand using official refinery throughput data plus net imports of the main refined products, excluding changes in fuel stocks, which China rarely reports.

China's daily crude throughput in May fell 1.3 percent to 9.5 million bpd from 9.63 million bpd in April as refineries entered the peak maintenance season, data from the National Statistics Bureau (NSB) showed.

The crude throughput was up 3.5 percent from a year ago, the NSB data also showed.

China turned net fuel exporter again in May, the second time this year, as oil firms kept exporting surplus fuel.

Net fuel exports in May were 410,000 tonnes, or 92,580 bpd, compared to net imports of 340,000 tonnes in April and 1.25 million tonnes a year earlier, customs data showed earlier.

China imported 6.14 million bpd of crude oil in May, down 9.4 percent from a record high of 6.78 million bpd in April.

(Reporting by Judy Hua and David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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