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China Crude-Processing Rises to Record High as Economy Recovers

China’s crude processing rose to a record in December as the country added refining capacity and industrial production increased amid the first acceleration in the economy in two years.

China processed 43.12 million metric tons of crude last month, up 8.4 percent from a year ago, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics today. That’s equivalent to 10.2 million barrels a day, beating the previous record of 10.17 million in November.

Refiners have stepped up operations amid a rebound in economic growth. Gross domestic product expanded 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter compared with 7.4 percent in the previous period, snapping a seven-quarter slowdown, government figures showed today. Industrial output rose 10.3 percent in December for a fourth monthly gain, according to the data. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. or Sinopec, Asia’s largest refiner, almost doubled the capacity of its Maoming refinery last month to more than 20 million tons a year.

“The economic recovery boosted refineries’ incentive to process crude oil and the cold weather in the winter also supports higher demand for heating fuel,” Shi Yan, a Shanghai-based analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Ltd. said by phone. “I expect refining to remain high this month.”

Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corp., the nation’s two largest refiners, plan to process 0.6 percent more crude in January than last month, C1 Energy, a Shanghai-based commodity researcher, said Jan. 16.

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