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China's Top Refiner Sees Oil Product Demand Peak By 2025

China's largest refiner, Sinopec, expects domestic demand for oil products to peak by 2025 due to COVID impacts and the rise of electric vehicles, Argus reported on Friday, citing Sinopec's research think-tank as saying in its annual report.

"China's oil products will enter a final growth phase before peaking in the next five years," the Economics and Development Research Institute (EDRI) at Sinopec said, as carried by Argus.

According to the research institute, gasoline demand in China will likely peak in 2025, while demand for diesel could peak as soon as next year.

In 2020, Chinese oil product demand is seen down by 7 percent annually, EDRI said, as the pandemic cut consumption in China first.

Crude oil throughput at Chinese refineries, on the other hand, are expected to remain flat year over year in 2020, at around 13.4 million barrels per day (bpd), the think-tank forecasts.

Despite the expected imminent peak in domestic demand for oil products, refinery capacity in China is set to jump to nearly 20 million bpd by 2025, up from an estimated 17.83 million bpd in 2020, Sinopec's forecasts cited by Argus showed.

China is already on track to surpass the United States as the world's biggest oil refiner next year or the year after. Last year, refiners added some 1 million bpd to existing capacity, and there is another 1.4 million bpd of capacity under construction.

The new refinery capacity set to come online in China within the next five years will increase the oil product surplus in the country and lead to 30-percent growth in Chinese exports of refined petroleum products in 2025 compared to 2021, according to EDRI.

Surging Chinese oil product exports are set to put pressure on refiners elsewhere in Asia as the global refining industry is struggling with overcapacity. Refiners around the world have been announcing permanent closures of refinery capacity this year after the pandemic crushed fuel demand worldwide, and significant overcapacity still remains, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said last month.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on December 19 2020 said:
    If China’s demand for oil products is projected to peak by 2025, then it follows that global products’ demand could be expected to peak soon since China is the world’s largest importer of crude oil and soon to become the largest consumer of oil as well.

    How does Sinopec then explain that refinery capacity in China is set to jump to nearly 20 million barrels a day (mbd) by 2025, up from an estimated 17.83 mbd in 2020 unless this is intended for exports.

    Moreover, the explanation Sinopec gave for the projected domestic peak of demand for oil products as COVID-19 pandemic and electric vehicles (EVs) isn’t convincing. The pandemic will soon be history with global vaccination while the impact of EVs on global oil demand will be so slight that it may not even register on the radar of the global transport system.

    It seems to me that it has become nowadays trendy for everybody to give an opinion on peak oil and products demand.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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