May 15, 2017 / 9:11 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 2-China refinery runs at 7-mth low on maintenances, gas growth quickens

* April runs at 7-month low due to refinery maintenance

* Crude output declines less rapidly, positive growth seen in H2

* Natural gas output in double-digit growth for 2nd straight month (Adds analyst quote, write through)

BEIJING, May 15 (Reuters) - China’s April refinery throughput fell to its lowest level on a daily basis since last September as some large state-owned refineries conducted planned oil plant maintenance and crude oil output continued to drop.

April crude throughput was down 0.6 percent year on year to 44.45 million tonnes, or about 10.82 million barrels per day (bpd), the lowest in seven months as several major plants carried out planned shutdowns, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The April throughput was 3.3 percent lower compared to the 11.19 million bpd level in March. Refineries had processed a record amount of 11.26 million bpd in December as processors ramped up output at the end of year due to attractive margins.

For the first four months of the year, crude throughput was up 3.1 percent from a year ago at 182.25 million tonnes.

The NBS data on Monday also showed domestic crude output fell 3.7 percent last month versus a year earlier to 15.99 million tonnes, or 3.89 million bpd.

Output for the first four months was down 6.1 percent on year at 64.01 million tonnes.

Although still in negative growth, China’s crude oil production has been declining less rapidly in recent months and is expected to post flat growth for the whole of 2017, said Seng Yick Tee, analyst with consultancy SIA Energy.

“We expect crude oil output to recover more in the second half to show positive growth, as a result of higher oil prices and state oil companies boosting spending,” said Tee.

Natural gas output rose 15 percent in April from a year earlier at 12.2 billion cubic metres (bcm), extending for the second month in a row double-digit growth that has not been seen for more than three years.

Natural gas productions gained six percent on year at 50.9 bcm for the January-April period, the data showed.

China’s gas consumption growth has been quickening since the start of this year after a nearly three-year lull, according to analysts, thanks to stronger demand from industrial and power sectors under a government push to wean off coal addictions.

1 tonne = 7.3 barrels for crude conversion Reporting by Dominique Patton and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Tom Hogue

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