June 14, 2019 / 7:57 AM / 2 days ago

China's May crude runs drop from peaks, but natgas output surges

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s crude oil throughput rose 2.8 percent in May from a year earlier, but eased from record levels struck the month before, government data showed on Friday.

Crude throughput last month climbed 2.8 percent from a year earlier to 51.9 million tonnes, or 12.22 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed. That compared to an all-time high in April of 12.68 million bpd.

But with new production from two massive private refineries, crude throughput is set to reach new peaks in the coming months.

Privately owned Hengli Petrochemical ramped up its new 400,000-bpd refinery to full operation in late May, while similar-sized Zhejiang Petrochemical also started trial runs last month.

For the first five months of the year, Chinese crude throughput rose 4.4 percent on-year to 259.49 million tonnes, the NBS reported.

The NBS data also showed China’s crude oil production in May climbed 1% from a year earlier to 16.23 million tonnes, or about 3.82 million bpd. That was flat from April.

Output in the January to May period increased 0.7% from a year earlier to 79.29 million tonnes, buoyed as national oil majors stepped up drilling amid a government call to boost domestic supply security.

Natural gas output was 14.4 billion cubic meters (bcm) in May, 12.9-percent higher than a year earlier.

Output in the first five months expanded at a robust 9.8% from a year ago to 72.5 bcm. Natural gas output increased faster than crude oil as state companies prioritized increases in spending on the cleaner burning fuel to meet strong demand growth.

(Corrects name of statistics agency to National Bureau of Statistics, not National Statistics Bureau, in 2nd paragraph. Corrects acronyms in 5th, 6th paragraphs)

Reporting by China energy team; Editing by Joseph Radford

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