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Expect Chinese Refinery Run Rates To Fall Soon

Chinese refineries will reduce their throughput during the current quarter ahead of the country’s National Day holiday that begins in October, S&P Global Platts reports, citing a general state-imposed curb on industrial activity aimed at keeping pollution in check and reducing the risk of accidents ahead of the holiday.

The reduction will likely affect not just throughput rates but also import rates during the quarter, the news agency noted.

One city in the province of Shandong—home of most of China’s so-called teapot refineries—has already issued a mandatory cap on industrial activity at 70 percent of capacity for the months of August and September for industries including oil refining, glass manufacturing, cement, and pharmaceuticals.

"This kind of mandate would cut independent refineries' crude throughput by 10-15%," one Beijing analyst told S&P Global Platts. Other sources note that if the cap mandated by the city of Zibo is replicated across the province of Shandong, this would affect a fifth of China’s total refining capacity.

To date, independent refiners account for about 30 percent of China’s oil processing capacity, which stands at 15 million barrels daily and rising. According to an analysis from Bloomberg released in March, this year will see refining capacity additions of as much as 890,000 bpd

Chinese refiners’ throughput hit a record high in the first two months of the year, averaging 12.68 million bpd. Most of this crude oil, based on import figures, came from abroad. February marked the fourth month in a row of crude oil imports into the country exceeding the 10-million-bpd mark.

After a brief decline, throughput rates returned to the record-high average in April. In January this year, CNPC, the country’s largest oil company, said it expected 12.68 million bpd to be the average processing rate for local refineries this year as a whole.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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