China April crude oil output lowest since July 2013

BEIJING (Reuters) - China, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, pumped 5.6 percent less crude year-on-year in April, official data showed, as oil firms struggled with cost pressures with crude prices hovering around $40 a barrel.

An employee fills a car at a gas station in Hefei, Anhui province, September 11, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics released on Saturday showed China produced 16.59 million tonnes of crude oil last month, or about 4.04 million barrels per day (bpd), the lowest rate since July 2013 on a daily basis.

A global oil supply overhang has eased this month thanks to unplanned outages caused by wildfires in Canada and further losses in Nigeria and Libya.

Deeper production cuts in China may give the market another boost.

Production in the first four months was down 2.7 percent over the same year-ago period to 68.14 million tonnes, or about 4.11 million bpd.

PetroChina, the country’s top producer, recorded a 0.2 percent drop in oil and gas production in the first quarter and Sinopec scaled back domestic crude production by 10.35 percent in the same period, companies said in April.

Offshore specialist CNOOC Ltd, however, delivered a 5.1 percent rise in total net oil and gas production in the first quarter over a year ago, thanks to new Chinese offshore fields.

Natural gas output last month rose 5.6 percent on the year to 10.6 billion cubic meters, with production up 5.3 percent in the first four months, the data showed.

Consumption of the cleaner fuel has regained some pace after the government cut wholesale city-gate prices last November.

National crude throughput gained 2.4 percent in April versus a year earlier at 44.75 million tonnes, or 10.89 million bpd.

That compared to March’s runs at 10.58 million bpd.

Throughput in the first four months rose 2.9 percent on year to about 10.69 million bpd, according to the data.

(tonne = 7.3 barrels for crude oil)

Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Stephen Coates