China's apparent oil demand* in October edged up 0.9% to an average 9.83 million barrels per day (b/d) or 41.59 million metric tons (mt) versus year-ago data, according to a Platts analysis of Chinese government data.
The October average marked a reversal of the 2.3% year-over-year contraction in apparent demand seen in September, when it averaged 9.66 million b/d.
The slight gain in apparent oil demand was due to higher refining activity, with crude processing by refineries, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics on November 9, up 3.1% versus a year ago to an average 9.71 million b/d and up 2.9% from September 2013.
Oil product imports in October were 2.92 million mt, down 8.8% from a year ago. Oil product exports were to 2.41 million mt, up 31.7% from October 2012. This resulted in net oil product imports of 510,000 mt, a 62.8% decrease from a year ago, according to General Administration of Customs data released November 8.
“Since August, China’s oil product import levels have been relatively low compared with earlier in the year and it appears that refiners have been running down their existing inventories,” said Song Yen Ling, Platts senior writer for China. “Already, domestic commercial inventories of gasoline, gasoil and jet/kerosene are estimated to be at their lowest levels since December last year.”
China’s apparent demand for gasoline totaled 8 million mt in October, marking a year-over-year increase of 8.3%. Domestic output rose 9.3% last month to 8.32 million mt, more than compensating for increased exports, which surged 45.5% year over year to 320,000 mt. Traditionally, China has not been an importer of gasoline.