China's refinery output up nearly 20% on demand recovery

BEIJING/SINGAPORE, April 16 (Reuters) - China’s daily crude oil throughput surged 19.7% in March from a year earlier, as refiners ramped up operations to meet robust fuel demand and to build up inventory before shutting down for overhaul.

China processed 59.79 million tonnes of crude oil last month, data issued by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Friday. That is equivalent to 14.08 million barrels per day (bpd), easing off 14.13 million bpd averaged in the first two months.

The strong year-on-year growth was in part due to a low base a year earlier when Chinese fuel demand was badly hit by coronavirus that forced refineries to slash production.

Throughput for the first quarter of this year was 174.04 million tonnes, up 16.5% year.

“The strong growth is within our expectations. Recovering motor fuel consumptions and robust growth in petrochemicals demand contributed to the refinery throughput,” said Seng Yick Tee, senior director at Beijing-based consultancy SIA Energy.

The NBS data also showed China’s crude oil output rose 3.3% in March versus the same month a year ago to 17.09 million tonnes, or 4.02 million bpd.

Output for the January-March period climbed 1.4% year-on-year at 49.18 million tonnes.

Natural gas output last month jumped 12.1% from a year earlier to 18.5 billion cubic metres (bcm), and was up 13.1% at 53.3 bcm for the first quarter.

Reporting by Muyu Xu in Beijing and Chen Aizhu in Singapore; Editing by Michael Perry