China Crude Stockpile Rises to Six-Month High as Refineries Shut

China’s commercial crude stockpiles rose in May to the highest level in six months as more refineries shut for maintenance, reducing demand.

Crude inventories, excluding emergency reserves, climbed 4.8 percent from a month earlier, China Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals, a newsletter published by the official Xinhua News Agency, reported today. Supplies increased to 30 million metric tons, or about 220.2 million barrels, the highest since November, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

China’s 83 biggest refineries closed 2.2 million tons of crude-processing capacity for maintenance in May, the most this year, according to ICIS C1, a Shanghai-based commodities researcher. That’s more than an average of about 1.4 million a month in 2012. Refining dropped to 9.2 million barrels a day last month, 10 percent below a record in December, National Bureau of Statistics data on June 9 showed.

“Throughput was obviously less” than output and net imports in May, leading to the stockpile gain, OGP said today.

China is the largest oil consumer after the U.S., according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy. The U.S. had 394.1 million barrels of commercial crude inventories in mid-June, Energy Information Administration data shows.

‘Summer Harvest’

Diesel stockpiles in the Asian nation fell 8.9 percent, the newsletter said. Supplies were at 8.95 million tons, the lowest since December, data compiled by Bloomberg shows.

“Diesel oil demand further increased on summer harvest activities,” according to OGP. Consumption will expand 2.3 percent this quarter from a year earlier to 42.75 million tons, it said on May 1, citing research by China National Petroleum Corp., the country’s biggest oil company.

Gasoline stockpiles climbed 0.6 percent from April to 7.09 million tons in May, while kerosene supplies dropped 1.9 percent to 1.56 million tons, the data show.

— With assistance by Sarah Chen

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