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China's refineries achieved record throughput in 2020

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

As reported by Reuters, China’s refineries posted record throughput in 2020, processing 3% more crude oil than a year ago, as they took advantage of low prices and healthy margins on a quick rebound in domestic fuel demand from the coronavirus pandemic.

Annual throughput stood at 674.41 million t in 2020, or about 13.45 million bpd, up roughly 410 000 bpd from 2019, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

December output rose 2.1% on the year to a monthly record at 60 million t, or about 14.13 million bpd, a touch below the daily record set in November, which has one less day, at 14.2 million bpd.

“China’s manufacturing sector strength climbed to levels not seen in years,” said Seng Yick Tee, a senior director at SIA Energy.

“The economic acceleration boosted by investments, merchandise exports and domestic consumption all contributed to record crude runs in December and the whole of 2020.”

Refineries slashed operations from February through April amid widespread lockdowns nationwide to rein in the virus, but operations rebounded from May, after China largely contained it. Plants raised operation to peak rates through the rest of 2020.

The rebound was also bolstered by expanded capacities at state-run refiners and full operations at large private refiners Hengli Petrochemical and Zhejiang Petrochemical Corp.

Zhejiang started its third 200 000 bpd crude unit in November, becoming China’s single-largest oil processor.

Independent plants in the eastern province of Shandong that account for nearly a fifth of national capacity have raised throughput since April, operating at their highest levels since they first became importers of crude in 2016, says Sublime China Information.

While a decline in vehicle sales dragged on gasoline demand, the booming trucking business and construction gave diesel an unexpected boost.

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