Today's Trends: China Oil Demand Hits 2nd Strongest Demand Level on Record

China's apparent oil demand in February rose 10.1% year over year to 36.65 million metric tons (mt), or an average 9.58 million b/d, according to Platts' analysis of Chinese government data. This is the second strongest demand level on record behind the peak of December 2010, when an all-time high was reached. Only apparent demand in January of this year was stronger.

Oil demand in February was 4.2% higher than January's 9.19 million b/d, and just a tad lower than the all-time high reached in December of 9.62 million b/d. The rebound in oil demand, after a dip in January, was attributed to increased crude throughput by several refineries ahead of scheduled turnarounds and higher production by other plants coming back from planned maintenance.

"Chinese oil companies have been eager to pile up on inventories of refined products, particularly diesel, to ensure adequate supplies to drought-hit areas and in anticipation of peak demand during the spring farming season between February and April," said Calvin Lee, Platts senior writer, China.

Crude oil imports by the world's second largest oil consumer rose 7.8% year over year in February to 19.95 million mt, or 5.22 million b/d. Meanwhile, crude exports fell to a three-year low of 80,000 mt, which was 63.64% lower than a year ago, data released by the country's General Administration of Customs showed. Imports of crude oil continued to climb last month as Chinese companies relied on foreign barrels to meet their feedstock requirements, with domestic crude production expected to remain flat this year.

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