China's apparent oil demand* rose 9.1% year over year in November to 42.96 million metric tons (mt), or an average 10.5 million barrels per day (b/d), the highest on record, a just-released Platts analysis of recent Chinese government data showed.
November apparent demand surpassed the previous record high of 9.8 million b/d in September. It was also higher than in October, when apparent demand had risen 6.6% year over year to 9.75 million b/d.
The robust growth is more evidence that China's economy is on the mend. In November last year, apparent demand grew by just 3.3% year over year to 9.62 million b/d.
Apparent demand in November was boosted by record refinery throughput, which rose 9.1% from November 2011 to 10.17 million b/d last month, according to data released by China's National Bureau of Statistics on December 12. Another factor contributing to the rise in apparent demand was the increase in net oil product imports of 11.6% year over year to 1.35 million mt in November.
Similar to October, it appears that Chinese refiners kept their refinery runs high in November to prepare for higher seasonal winter demand in the fourth quarter and early next year, particularly after they had run down domestic product stocks in July and August.
"The strong growth in November came from a recovery in consumption but part of it was also likely due to domestic refineries keeping their runs high to replenish oil product stocks that were run down in summer," said Song Yen Ling , Platts senior writer for China. "According to sources, demand growth could moderate to around the 5% level going forward once refiners have replaced these stocks," Song said.
In China's individual oil products markets, apparent demand for gasoil in November continued to show growth for the third consecutive month, increasing 2.8% from a year ago to 14.65 million mt or 3.66 million b/d.
*Platts calculates China's apparent or implied oil demand on the basis of crude throughput volumes at the domestic refineries and net oil product imports, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics and Chinese customs. Platts also takes into account undeclared revisions in NBS historical data.