Market Overview

Platts Report: China's Oil Demand Hits Record Volume in September


Rebounds From August Contraction, Refinery Runs Also at Record

SINGAPORE, Oct. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- China's apparent oil demand* rose 9.1% year on year in September to 40.12 million metric tons (mt), or an average 9.8 million barrels per day (b/d), the highest on record, a just-released Platts analysis of recent Chinese government data showed.

September apparent* demand surpassed the previous record of 9.77 million b/d hit in February this year. Demand growth for the month was also the highest since February 2011.

The September growth in apparent demand is a rebound from a 1.5% contraction in August to 8.95 million b/d, the lowest since September 2011, when demand was also at 8.95 million b/d. That was the second contraction this year, after apparent demand dipped 1.9% to 9 million b/d in June, before rising 2.4% year on year to 9.2 million b/d in July.

Apparent demand in September was boosted by higher refinery throughput, which rose 7% from September 2011 to 9.47 million b/d, according to data released by China's National Bureau of Statistics on October 18. This is the highest on record since the 9.38 million b/d seen in January. Another factor in the rise in apparent demand was the surge in net oil product imports of 156.6% year on year to 1.36 million mt in September.

"September's strong refinery runs and rise in net oil products imports suggest underlying demand was fairly stable in the third quarter," said Song Yen Ling, Platts senior writer for China. "The contractions we saw in August and June were partly due to slowing economic growth, but were also likely due to refiners drawing down their oil product and crude oil inventories built up in the first half of this year," she said.

Chinese refiners also likely increased their refinery throughput in September as they looked ahead to higher seasonal winter demand in the fourth quarter and after having run down domestic product stocks in July and August.

In China's individual oil products markets, apparent demand for gasoil showed a turnaround in September, growing 4.7% year on year to 13.8 million mt or 3.45 million b/d. This followed three consecutive months of demand contraction – averaging 1.8% – from June to August to 3.3 million b/d.

Domestic production of gasoil, primarily used in the transport and industrial sectors, rose 6% year on year to 14 million mt, while exports fell 10.5% year on year to 170,000 mt. China did not import gasoil in September, according to data from the General Administration of Customs released October 24. China consumes more gasoil than any other oil product.

"With China's economy likely bottoming out and predictions of improving growth over the next few months, gasoil demand is expected to continue to pick up in the fourth quarter and going into 2013," said Song.

Apparent demand for gasoline in September rose 13.7% year on year to 7.35 million mt (2.08 million b/d), largely driven by domestic output, which rose 12.6% to 2.17 million b/d. China is a net exporter of gasoline. Total gasoline exports last month fell 9.4% year on year to 290,000 mt.

Meanwhile, jet fuel/kerosene demand in September grew by 10.1% year on year to 1.86 million mt (483,193 b/d), largely due to the Golden Week holiday from October 1-8, which boosted jet fuel sales 10.1%, according to government data.

Jet/kerosene exports surged 17.8% to 530,000 mt, while imports fell 11.5% to 460,000 mt. Output rose 19.2% on year to 501,393 b/d.


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*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 National Bureau of Statistics 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.

For more information on crude oil, visit the Platts website at For Chinese-language information on oil and the energy and metals markets, visit

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