Platts Report: China Oil Demand Climbed 5.4% Year over Year in April
SINGAPORE, May 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- 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"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.
LPGDemand for LPG in China has rebounded in the last two years following the start of new propane dehydrogenation plants in the petrochemicals sector. These facilities primarily use imported LPG as feedstock. Apparent demand for LPG in April was up 23.3% year on year to 3.37 million mt, with net imports rising 60% over the period to 944,000 mt. So far this year, apparent demand for LPG has gained 22.9% year over year to 12.18 million mt.
GasolineMeanwhile, apparent demand for gasoline climbed 12.3% year over year to 9.58 million mt, with year-to-date demand rising 9.1% to 37.25 million mt, buoyed by higher passenger car sales. Sales of sports utility vehicles, in particular, have risen 48.7% so far this year, while multi-purpose vehicle sales have also surged 20% from a year earlier.
Fuel OilFuel oil witnessed a further decline in demand following consumption tax increases in the fourth quarter of last year, which has made the fuel more expensive for the country's independent teapot refiners to buy. These refiners use imported fuel oil as an alternative feedstock in the absence of crude import rights.
Apparent demand for fuel oil in April slumped 19.3% year over year to 2.54 million mt. Net fuel oil imports fell 44.6% during the month to 510,000 mt. Apparent demand for fuel oil during January to April tumbled 17.8% to 10.54 million mt.
MONTHLY TRADE DATA IN MILLION METRIC TONS
Net crude imports (million mt)
Crude production (million mt)
Apparent demand (million mt)
Apparent demand ('000 b/d)
Sources: China's General Administration of Customs, National Bureau of Statistics, Platts
Month-to-month demand in China is generally viewed to be subjected to short-term anomalies which are of interest and important to note, but often fail to reveal the country's underlying demand trends. Year-to-year comparisons are viewed by the marketplace to be more indicative of the country's energy profile.
*Platts calculates China's apparent or implied oil demand on the basis of crude throughput volumes at the domestic refineries and net oil product imports, as reported by the NBS and Chinese customs. Platts also takes into account undeclared revisions in NBS historical data.
The government releases data on imports, exports, domestic crude production and refinery throughput data, but does not give official data on the country's actual oil consumption figure and oil stockpiles. Official statistics on oil storage are released intermittently.
Platts releases its monthly calculation of China's apparent demand between the 18th and 26th of every month via press release and via its website. Any use of this information must be appropriately attributed to Platts. Platts uses a conversion rate of 7.33 barrels of crude per metric ton, the widely-accepted benchmark for markets East of Suez.
For more information on crude oil, visit the Platts website at www.platts.com. For Chinese-language information on oil and the energy and metals markets, visit http://www.platts.cn/.
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