China's daily oil refinery output hits 15-month low in August

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)’s Dalian Petrochemical Corp refinery is seen near the downtown of Dalian in Liaoning province, China July 17, 2018. Picture taken July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Chen Aizhu/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s throughput continued to fall in August, with daily runs hitting the lowest since May 2020, as a resurgence in coronavirus cases and a drastic cut in fuel export quotas hurt production at refineries.

Processing volumes in August were 58.35 million tonnes, or 13.74 million barrels per day (bpd), down 2.2% from a year earlier, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Wednesday. That was also less than the 13.91 million bpd in July, which was a 14-month low.

Total throughput during the first eight months of 2021 reached 470.79 million tonnes, up 7.4% from a year earlier, largely reflecting the economy’s recovery from the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While state refiners raised output to compensate for some of the production losses at independent refiners that faced dwindling import quotas, Beijing’s cuts to refined fuel export quotas limited operations, analysts said.

Top refiner Sinopec Corp said in August that it exported 10% less fuel in the first half of 2021 versus a year ago and expected crude throughput to stay flat in the second-half versus a year earlier partly due to export controls.

Operating rates at small, independent refiners were estimated at 63% in August, versus 64.4% in July, according to China-based JCL consultancy.

The NBS data also showed China’s crude oil output in August at 17.03 million tonnes, up 2.3% from year-earlier level.

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Over the first eight months the year, output rose 2.4% to 133.22 million tonnes.

output last month rose 11.3% from a year earlier to 15.9 billion cubic metres (bcm), while January to August production expanded 10.8% to 136.1 bcm.

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