Total refinery throughput reached 63.9 million tonnes, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed, equivalent to 14.9 million barrels per day (bpd). That was up 8.8% from a year earlier.
Chinese oil refinery throughput surged to a record in March, data showed on Tuesday, as refiners stepped up runs to capture strong export demand and build up inventories ahead of planned maintenance.
Total refinery throughput reached 63.9 million tonnes, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed, equivalent to 14.9 million barrels per day (bpd). That was up 8.8 per cent from a year earlier.
Throughput was 13.8 million bpd in March 2022 and 14.36 million bpd for the January-February period this year.
Total first-quarter throughput was 179.3 million tonnes, 5.2 per cent higher than the 171.4 million tonnes in the same period last year.
Recovering export demand for gasoline and aviation fuel as more people travelled following the scrapping of COVID-19 controls has supported higher refinery runs.
China’s refined fuels exports in March surged by 35.1 per cent from a year earlier, customs data showed last week.
Gasoline margins in Asian trade rose to two-month highs in late March, supported by tighter supplies from Indian refiners.
Cheaper crude imports from Russia, which sells oil to China at steep discounts because of a scarcity of other willing buyers, also enhanced refining margins and encouraged greater production.
Major private refiners, such as Zhejiang Petrochemical (ZPC) and Hengli Petrochemical have reportedly been operating at or above their official capacity as they look to profit from these strong margins.
Refiners are also expected to increase stockpiles of refined oil products ahead of upcoming maintenance at large state-owned refineries to ensure security of domestic supply.
Sinopec’s Luoyang refinery will shutdown its whole plant for 54-days from mid-May, while PetroChina’s Changqing refinery began a 55-day overhaul at the start of April.
NBS data also showed China’s crude oil production in March was up 2.4 per cent from a year earlier to 18.2 million tonnes, about 4.28 million bpd.
Natural gas production grew 4 per cent to 20.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) from last year’s 19.7 bcm.