(EnergyAsia, May 31 2010, Monday) — China’s oil demand surged 12.7% to 35.42 million metric tons (MT) or 8.43 million b/d in April 2010 from year-ago level, said energy and metals information provider Platts. This consumption level was just short of the country’s record of 8.5 million b/d for February 2010.

China’s total crude throughput reached an all-time high of 8.41 million b/d in April due to several of the country’s refineries resuming production from scheduled maintenance combined with new refineries coming on-stream. While this indicated a robust 17% increase compared with April 2009’s figures, Platts said that last year’s low results were affected by a manufacturing slump for Chinese exports in early 2009.

Vandana Hari, Platts’ news director for Asia, explained:

“China has established a firm pace of economic growth, and its refining industry is riding a wave of new and more efficient capacity, the government’s domestic oil pricing reforms, and robust retail consumption at home.

“There was plenty of skepticism on China’s ability to hold on to its growth momentum in the face of the global economic downturn, but that faded away. There is concern once again, that an expected revaluation of the yuan and the monetary tightening that has begun this year could yet derail the Asian giant, but this could prove to be unfounded too.”

Data from the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association (CPCIA) showed domestic oil products sales rising 16.8% to 20.25 million MT in April. Other results for April included gasoil sales growing 18.1% to 13.41 million MT or 3.33 million b/d, and gasoline sales increasing 10.3% to 5.78 million MT or 1.66 million b/d.

Meanwhile, China continued to cut back its refined products buying from overseas, cutting net oil imports from 2 million MT in April 2009 to 1 million MT in April 2010.

Another trend shows state-owned oil companies sending increasing volumes of fuel overseas, with exports for April 2010 rising 22.3% compared to exports of the corresponding month for 2009, said Platts.