China's apparent oil demand in the first ten months of this year total 355.58 million mt, or an average of 8.57 million b/d. This is up 10.4% from the same period of 2009, Platts data showed.
Crude throughput volumes at Chinese refiners spiked to a collective total of 37.04 million mt or 8.76 million b/d on average in October, a historic high, and up 11.3% from a year ago, data from the country's National Bureau of Statistics showed.
The sharp rise in crude processing contrasted with a significant drop in Chinese crude imports in October, to 16.39 million mt or 3.88 million b/d. This was the lowest monthly import figure to date in 2010 and 15.2% lower than the corresponding month of 2009.
Platts noted in its China Oil Demand press release last month that China's net crude import and throughput figures for September indicated the country had likely put a little more than 5 million mt of crude into storage. More than 3 million mt of that crude surplus should have been used up in October with crude purchases during that month from overseas being the lowest so far this year while refiners' processing volumes were the highest.
"An acute shortage of gasoil in China, attributed to a reduction in power supply, has headlined the oil industry in Asia and beyond for the past few weeks. The situation explains the 36% jump in China's net refined product imports in October from a month ago as well as refiners cranking up output to an all-time high," said Vandana Hari, Asia editorial director for Platts.
"The power blackout policy adopted by some local governments to meet the country's pledge to cut energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 20% from 2005 levels by end-2010 is driving up diesel-fired electricity generation and appears set to further boost China's already strong oil demand growth rates through the end of this year," Hari added.
Meanwhile, China's refined product imports declined to 2.72 million mt in October from 2.79 million mt in September, but exports saw a sharper drop of 13.36% month on month to 1.88 million mt, leading to higher net imports.