China's apparent oil demand* in April increased 5.4% from a year earlier to 42.89 million metric tons (mt), or an average 10.48 million barrels per day (b/d), according to a just-released Platts analysis of Chinese government data.
Apparent demand during the month was mainly supported by an increase in demand for light-end products such as gasoline.
China’s refinery throughput in April averaged 10.54 million b/d, rising 6.9% from a year earlier, data from the country’s National Bureau of Statistics showed May 13.
On the other hand, China was a net oil product exporter in April, with volumes totaling 240,000 mt, according to data released May 8 by the General Administration of Customs.
During the first four months of this year, China’s total apparent oil demand also averaged 10.48 million b/d, an increase of 4.4% over the same period of 2014. This continued to be the fastest pace of year-to-date growth since 2011 and defied a relatively weak macroeconomic outlook.
“Apparent demand figures may be inflated compared with actual oil consumption because crucial data such as inventories are not taken into account,” said Platts senior writer for China, Song Yen Ling.
“Gasoil apparent demand for example, has shown fairly strong growth even though end users have not reported any significant increase in actual demand,” Song added
Gasoil is the most widely consumed oil product in China and demand has been hit in the last three years because of declining economic growth. Yet apparent demand in April expanded by a robust 6.5% year over year to 14.62 million mt.
Actual consumption was likely lower as market players reported high stocks in the domestic market.
Up to 70% of the fuel is used in the transport sector while the remainder is used by various sectors, including construction, farming and fishing, industrial heating and to power machinery.
Apparent demand for gasoil rose 4.6% over January to April to 58.24 million mt, improving from a contraction during the corresponding period of last year.