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China’s Gasoline Output Declines to Six-Month Low on Maintenance

May 16 (Bloomberg) -- China’s gasoline output fell to the lowest level in six months in April as refineries shut processing units for maintenance. Production of diesel and natural gas declined from March while crude was little changed.

China, the world’s second-biggest crude consumer, produced 7.76 million metric tons of gasoline in April, data today from the Beijing-based National Bureau of Statistics show. That’s equivalent to 2.19 million barrels a day, the lowest rate since October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The nation typically shuts refineries this time of year for maintenance before the peak summer demand season. Oil refining by companies including China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and PetroChina Co. dropped to 9.36 million barrels a day last month, the lowest volume since August, data from the the statistics bureau showed May 13.

“The low gasoline output is mainly because of low crude-processing from maintenance,” Jean Zou, an oil analyst at ICIS C1 Energy, a Shanghai-based commodities researcher, said by phone. “As major refineries’ operating rates pick up in May, gasoline output should rebound.”

China’s 83 biggest refineries shut 2.02 million tons of crude-processing capacity for maintenance in April, according to C1. That compares with an average of 1.38 million a month in 2012. The nation had a total annual capacity of 575 million tons last year, China National Petroleum Corp., the country’s biggest oil company, said in a report Jan. 30.

Gasoline demand will increase 11.6 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier to 22.93 million tons, Xinhua News Agency’s China Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals newsletter reported May 1, citing research by CNPC.

China’s diesel output in April was 13.82 million tons, or 3.46 million barrels a day, down from 3.59 million a day in March, today’s data showed. The nation pumped 17.15 million tons of crude, or 4.19 million barrels a day, compared with 4.18 million a day the prior month. Gas production was 9.21 billion cubic meters, down from 9.93 billion in March.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Chen in Beijing at schen514@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at akwiatkowsk2@bloomberg.net

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