Chinese crude oil refineries processed an average 12.07 million barrels of oil daily in 2018, up by 6.8 percent on the year and the highest daily processing rate on record, government statistics show, as cited by Reuters.
In December alone, local refiners processed 12.05 million bpd, a 4.4-percent annual improvement, the data also showed, reflecting a sharp increase in imports of crude oil in the last month of the year.
China imported 30 percent more crude oil in December than a year earlier. The surge was the result of independent refiners rushing to exhaust their import quotas before the end of the year.
The rush pushed the daily rate of shipments to 10.31 million bpd.
That’s the second month in a row when Chinese refiners imported more than 10 million bpd of crude oil, with the December figure slightly below the record-high November import rate.
The run rates of Chinese refineries are seen to continue rising this year as well, Reuters reports, citing forecasts from the research division of state oil and gas giant CNPC.
CNPC’s analysts expect run rates at 4.7 percent higher than the 2018 average, at 12.68 million barrels daily.
Imports are also likely to continue growing in the face of the latest domestic production numbers: in 2018, production from local fields fell for the third straight year due to natural depletion, higher costs, and the absence of new discoveries.
Natural gas production, on the other hand, is rising fast, breaking a record in December by reaching 15.3 billion cubic meters.
That was 10 percent more than a year ago and substantially higher than the previous record, set a month earlier, in November, at 14.27 billion cubic meters.
The total natural gas production in China in 2018 was 7.5 percent higher than a year earlier, at 161 billion cubic meters.