* Sees 2014 oil demand rising 4 pct to 10.36 mln bpd on new
refinery start ups
* Net crude imports seen climbing 7.1 pct to 5.96 mln bpd
* CNPC's demand forecast more bullish than IEA's
(Writes through, adding IEA forecast)
BEIJING, Jan 15 China's implied oil demand will
grow quicker this year at around 4 percent as new refineries
start up, the country's top oil firm forecast, after slowing
economic growth likely led to its weakest rise in five years in
China, the world's second-largest oil user and a key factor
in global prices , has driven oil demand growth
for most of the past decade and its slowing consumption has
helped rein in prices despite a plunge in exports from OPEC
member Iran due to sanctions and prolonged outages in Libya.
The forecast by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)
saw the nation's oil demand rising to 10.36 million barrels per
day (bpd), which would translate into an incremental demand of
nearly 400,000 bpd in 2014.
The forecast, in an annual report released by CNPC's
research institute on Wednesday, also saw the country's net
crude imports growth accelerating 7.1 percent to 298 million
tonnes, or 5.96 million bpd this year.
CNPC's demand forecast is more bullish than the
International Energy Agency's (IEA), which in December predicted
Chinese oil demand growing 382,000 bpd this year, or 3.7 percent
from 2013. It wasn't immediately clear how CNPC tallies the oil
The forecast growth in net crude imports would translate
into an incremental imports of 370,000 bpd versus the 2013 level
reported by Chinese customs.
That means China's dependence on foreign crude would rise to
58 percent this year, based on CNPC's forecast on refinery
throughput at 509 million tonnes (10.2 million bpd).
"Domestic refining capacity will grow rapidly, driving crude
oil demand...while domestic crude oil production would only rise
2.2 percent," the report said.
Reuters calculates implied oil demand by adding refinery
throughput with net imports of refined fuel, but excludes
changes in inventory. China rarely publishes oil inventory data,
making it hard to gauge real demand.
Decades of breakneck economic growth pushed China ahead of
the United States as the world's top net oil importer in
September, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has
said, a position China is set to keep through 2014.
Refinery throughput is likely to climb 5.1 percent from last
year, CNPC said. China is due to release its official 2013
national refinery output data next week.
Two greenfield refineries, each owned by PetroChina
and Sinochem Corp with combined capacity of 440,000
bpd, are slated to open in the first quarter, following repeated
delays, providing most of the additional demand for crude
imports this year.
CNPC also pointed out that China did not add any new
capacity to the strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) over 2013
with total SPR space remaining at 141 million barrels, another
factor behind a slower growth in crude imports last year.
Implied natural gas consumption will grow 11 percent from a
year earlier to 186 billion cubic metres this year, the CNPC
institute said, with imports to expand 18.9 percent to 63 bcm.
China, the world's top energy guzzler, is boosting use of
the cleaner fuel faster than oil, both by quickening domestic
exploration and raising imports.
For the first 11 months of 2013, China's implied oil demand
rose 2.3 percent to 9.76 million barrels per day, down from 4.5
percent growth last year and the lowest growth rate since at
least 2009, based on Reuters calculations from government data.
December data is expected on Jan. 20.
(tonne=7.3 barrels for crude conversion)
(Reporting by Judy Hua and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Muralikumar