Diesel Shortage Eases in Eastern China as Plants Boost Supply

A diesel supply shortage in eastern China has eased after state refiners produced at full capacity and ramped up imports, the chairman of the biggest oil- processing plant in Jiangsu province said.

The shortfall has “basically” abated in the eastern province, Zhang Dafu, chairman of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.’s Jinling refinery, said in a telephone interview yesterday. There are no longer queues at gas stations in Nanjing, the provincial capital, he said.

The nation’s largest refiners, PetroChina Co. and China Petroleum, known as Sinopec, boosted oil processing to a record last month and resumed imports of the fuel for trucks and power generators as the nation battled a diesel shortage that depleted at least 2,000 gas stations.

The Jinling plant produced 67,000 metric tons more diesel than previously planned, Zhang said.

Sinopec and PetroChina have bought at least 480,000 tons of diesel since November to boost domestic supply, the companies said last month. Sinopec also halted diesel exports this month.

Demand has risen since October as farmers used more fuel during the autumn harvest and factories turned to their own diesel-powered generators after local authorities shut electricity supplies to meet an energy-saving target.

The surge in diesel demand will subside by February, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in a note last week. China will become a net importer in December before returning to be an exporter next year, the bank said.

Wholesale prices of diesel fell 2 percent last week from a week earlier as the shortfall eased, Bin Guan, an analyst at China International Capital Corp., the nation’s largest investment bank, said in a research report on Dec. 7.

The 13.5 million ton-a-year Jinling refinery will shut a 3 million ton-a-year crude distillation unit and a 1.2 million ton-a-year hydrocracker from Dec. 20 to Jan. 14 for scheduled maintenance, Zhang said.

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