China November refinery runs hit record high, crude output falls

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s refinery throughput hit a daily record in November as plant maintenance wound down and independents ramped up productions, while crude oil production fell as producers held to output cuts at inefficient wells.

An employee rides a bike on a road near refinery plants of Chambroad Petrochemicals, in Boxing, Shandong Province, China, May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Meng Meng/File Photo

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Tuesday that refinery throughput rose 3.4 percent year-on-year to 45.77 million tonnes, or 11.14 million barrels per day (bpd), an all-time high on a daily basis.

“Plant overhauls wound down sharply in October and November versus a peak in August,” said Harry Liu, a Beijing-based consultant with research and analysis agency IHS. “A rebound in diesel fuel demand also helped.”

Diesel consumption strengthened between October and November driven in part by a price surge in local commodity futures for coal and steel, said Liu.

The re-opening of some mines, in response to the government’s call to boost output to tame a year-long price rally in the world’s top coal consuming nation, also drove up diesel use for heavy-duty trucks.

A few independent refineries winning fresh quotas to import crude oil since late September also added to run increases, analysts and traders have said.

Daily crude oil output in November, however, fell 9 percent from a year ago to 3.915 million barrels, the data also showed. It recovered from October’s 3.78 million bpd, though, the lowest in more than seven years.

For the first 11 months, crude production in the world’s second-largest oil consumer was down 6.9 percent on the year at 182.91 million tonnes, just under 4 million bpd.

Major upstream producer PetroChina reported in October that its crude output for the first nine months of 2016 fell 3.7 percent from a year earlier to 696.6 million barrels.

Sinopec Corp recorded a 12.6 percent year-on-year fall in crude oil productions in the first nine months of the year.

But with global oil prices rebounding to an 18-month high after OPEC and some of its rivals reached their first deal since 2001 to reduce output, production declines may slow in the coming months, said IHS’s Liu.

Natural gas output gained 5.5 percent from a year ago to 12.4 billion cubic meters, with year-to-date productions up 2.2 percent on-year at 123.5 bcm, the NBS data showed.

(1 ton=7.3 barrels of crude oil)

Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Richard Pullin and Tom Hogue