July 17, 2020 / 6:32 AM / in 23 days

China's oil product demand picks up in second quarter, still well below year-ago level - energy bureau

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s refined oil product consumption picked up in the second quarter as industry and transport demand improved after the peak of the coronavirus epidemic, according to the national energy bureau, but was still well below year-earlier levels.

After falling about 19% in the first quarter compared with January-March 2019, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said on Friday, “In the second quarter, the contraction narrowed by 6 percentage points.”

The NEA did not provide a breakdown of consumption of refined oil products in a briefing in the capital disclosing the percentage changes.

China since April had gradually relaxed travel restrictions within the country, restarted industrial production and increased investment in infrastructure projects once the peak of the coronavirus outbreak had passed.

Data released on Thursday indicated its April-June crude oil throughput reached 13.62 million barrels-per-day (bpd), up from 11.98 million bpd in the first quarter and exceeding 12.96 million bpd in the same period last year.

“Diesel consumption started to see year-on-year growth since April and gasoline since June. The recovery of fuel demand is expected to continue in the second half this year,” said Wang Lining, a senior analyst at a think-tank affiliated to China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), speaking earlier this week.

Analysts at the CNPC think-tank estimate gasoline consumption will reach 73.77 million tonnes in the second half of 2020, up 3.5% from a year earlier, while diesel consumption will hit 85.69 million tonnes, up 2.5%.

The NEA on Friday also said China’s electricity consumption rose 3.9% in the second quarter from a year ago, while natural gas use also exceeded last year’s level.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Tom Daly; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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