China Processes Record Crude on Boost From Independent Refiners

  • Oil refining rose 2.4% from year ago to 44.75 million tons
  • Teapots increased operations to highest since at least 2011

China processed record crude on a daily basis in April as the nation’s independent plants boosted operations amid a surge in oil imports.

Crude refining in the world’s second-largest oil consumer increased 2.4 percent from a year earlier to 44.75 million metric tons last month, or about 10.93 million barrels a day, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Saturday. That’s up 1.2 percent from the previous record of 10.8 million barrels a day in December.

Independent refineries, known as teapots, have been increasing runs after they were allowed to import crude oil. The utilization rate at the plants in eastern Shandong province increased to 53 percent of capacity as of April 29, according to industry website Oilchem.net. That’s the highest since at least August 2011, when Bloomberg started compiling the data.

“Teapot refineries have raised operation rates significantly this year,” Amy Sun, an analyst with ICIS China, a Shanghai-based commodity researcher, said by phone. “This has resulted in much higher oil processing than we expected in recent months.”

China’s inbound oil shipments in April rose 3.2 percent from the previous month to 7.96 million barrels a day and near the February high. Crude imports through Shandong’s Qingdao port surged to a record in March and accounted for about 30 percent of the country’s total.

China’s crude output fell 5.6 percent from a year earlier to 16.59 million tons (4.05 million barrels a day), Saturday’s data showed. Natural gas production climbed 5.6 percent to 10.6 billion cubic meters and coal output declined 11 percent to 268 million tons.

— With assistance by Jing Yang

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