This data review refers to combined January–February data, given that NBS publishes limited data over the Lunar New Year period.
Chinese implied demand in January–February averaged 13.14 mb/d, higher y/y by 0.32 mb/d, from a high base. Actual demand (adjusted for stock changes) was likely lower than implied demand data suggest but still 0.30–0.40 mb/d higher y/y.
Apparent gasoline demand averaged 3.46 mb/d in January–February, including 0.10 mb/d of mixed aromatics imports—lower y/y by 0.10 mb/d, (2.8%) on a high base, but up from December levels. Gasoline demand was stronger than expected, leaving exports at a 17-month low.
Chinese apparent diesel demand in January–February fell y/y by 0.26 mb/d (6.8%) to 3.57 mb/d, from a high base, and fell from December 2018 levels as the holidays limited industrial activity. But while construction and mining tend to pick up several weeks after Chinese New Year, this year, due to warm weather, activities have reportedly restarted much faster.
China’s crude imports in February rose y/y by 1.82 mb/d to 10.26 mb/d, exceeding 10 mb/d for the fourth consecutive month and defying expectations as well as cargo-tracking data. Buying was still extremely strong, despite reduced activity and buying during the week-long holiday.
China’s net product imports hit 0.42 mb/d in February, down y/y by 0.25 mb/d, with softer imports (mainly of reformate) but higher outflows led by diesel (+0.13 mb/d). However, gasoline exports fell by 96 thousand b/d y/y and are set to remain soft while diesel outflows rise further.
Crude production in January–February reached 3.81 mb/d, reversing three months of y/y declines and rising by 40 thousand b/d y/y (1.1%).