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A Red Flag For Oil Markets? China’s Refinery Throughput Plunges

Oil tanker

Amid planned maintenance at some big state refineries and decreased domestic production, China’s refinery runs in April dropped to their lowest levels since last September, according to data by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) compiled by Reuters.

Refinery runs last month were down by 0.6 percent annually to 44.45 million tons, equal to around 10.82 million bpd. This throughput compares to 11.19 million bpd refinery runs in March.

Between January and April this year, crude oil processing throughput increased by 3.1 percent compared to the same period last year.

Seasonal refinery maintenance also accounted for China importing lower volumes of crude oil in April compared to the record-breaking imports in March.

Compared to April last year, China’s domestic crude oil production decreased by 3.7 percent to 15.99 million tons, or 3.89 million bpd, last month. Between January and April, Chinese crude output dropped by 6.1 percent annually to 64.01 million tons, the statistics bureau data showed.

Still, domestic production is expected to drop less than it has dropped so far, and to recover more in the second half to post zero growth for full-2017, Seng Yick Tee, an analyst with consultancy SIA Energy, told Reuters. Related: Solar Mini-Grids Could Shield The U.S. From Terrorist Strikes

Higher oil prices and China’s state firms increasing spending are expected to lead to crude production recovery in the second half, according to the analyst.

Regarding natural gas production, China’s output jumped by 15 percent on the year in April, to 12.2 billion cubic meters (430.8 billion cubic feet), according to NBS data. This was the second monthly double-digit growth in gas production in a row that has not been seen in more than three years, according to Reuters.

In March, China’s natural gas production rose to a record 13.6 billion cubic meters (480.3 billion cubic feet), up 10.5 percent over March last year, as economic growth spurred more power use in the industrial sector.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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