China oil refinery output rises to record on firmer demand, export margins
(Reuters) - China's oil refinery throughput in August rose to a record, data showed on Friday, as processors in the world's second-largest crude consumer kept run rates high to meet summer travel demand and capitalize on strengthening export margins.
Total refinery throughput was a record 64.69 million metric tons last month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed, up 19.6% from a year ago, the fastest annual growth since March 2021.
That is the equivalent of 15.23 million barrels per day (bpd), also a record on a daily basis and up from the 12.64 million bpd processed a year earlier when extensive refiners to cut runs.
August throughput was also up from July's 14.87 million bpd.
Year-to-date throughput gained 11.9% from a year earlier to 491.4 million tons, or 14.76 million bpd.
Domestic demand for gasoline and kerosene over the August vacation season was a key driver of domestic fuel consumption, with travel levels likely to be have been further boosted by "revenge travel" after the pandemic, analysts said ahead of the data.
China's aviation regulator said on Friday that air passenger numbers in August nearly doubled from a year earlier, reaching a historical high of 63.96 million.
Additionally, refiners have been incentivized by additional government fuel export quotas to maintain higher runs to ship fuel overseas and cash-in on stronger profit margins from processing crude amid tighter regional supplies of diesel fuel.
Data from China's customs administration last week showed overall refined fuel exports continued to grow last month, rising 11% from the previous month and 23.3% year-on-year to 5.89 million tons.
Regional refining margins improved last month, averaging $12.60 per barrel versus around $6.60 per barrel in July.
The NBS data on Friday also showed China's domestic crude oil production in August gained 3.1% from a year earlier to 17.47 million metric tons, or 4.11 million bpd. The year-to-date volume rose 2.1% from a year earlier to 139.85 million tons, or 4.2 million bpd.
Natural gas production last month rose 6.3% from a year earlier to 18.1 billion cubic meters (bcm), the NBS said.