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China Oil Stockpiles Fall; Diesel Supply at Seven-Month High

China’s commercial crude inventories at the end of January dropped to the lowest level in 10 months and diesel stockpiles climbed to the highest since June as the nation boosted oil processing to a record.

Crude supplies, excluding emergency reserves, dropped by 1 percent from a month earlier, a report from Xinhua News Agency’s China Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals newsletter showed today. Inventories dropped to 28.86 million tons, which was the lowest since March, according to calculations by Bloomberg based on the Xinhua data. Diesel stockpiles jumped 18 percent to 9.48 million tons, the highest since June.

China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, processed an all-time high of 10.2 million barrels a day in December 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 Jan. 18.

“Record-high crude throughput in January led to the slight decrease of crude oil inventory,” according to the OGP report. “The stocks of diesel oil witnessed a sharp increase in January due to weak demand in the winter time.”

Gasoline stockpiles jumped 5.47 percent to 7.4 million tons, the highest since at least two years ago. Kerosene supplies increased 1.37 percent to 1.45 million tons, today’s data showed.

“We estimate January’s crude processing volume will also be at a high level, similar to that of December,” Jean Zou, an oil analyst with C1 Energy based in Guangzhou, said by telephone today. China hasn’t yet published the January figure for refining volumes.

OGP stopped publishing outright stockpile levels in July 2010. Inventory levels calculated by Bloomberg News are based on percentage changes that OGP provides monthly and volumes given by the publication up to July 2010.

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